MOSCOW/KIEV, (Reuters) – Favourable weather during spring grain sowing in Black Sea producers Russia and Ukraine is increasing the chances of another large grain harvest due to healthy levels of soil moisture, analysts and traders said.
Russia, a major global wheat exporter to North Africa and the Middle East, is so far on track to harvest a grain crop of 118-129 million tonnes, according to official and local analysts’ estimates, up from 113 million tonnes in 2018.
Ukrainian agriculture ministry expects the country’s grain crop to remain flat at around 70 million tonnes.
Kazakhstan, another major global wheat exporter via the Black Sea, plans to increase its grain crop by 100,000 tonnes from last year to 20.3 million tonnes, its state trader said in April.
Spring grain sowing in Russia and Ukraine is running ahead of last year which was delayed by a late spring. As of April 23, farmers in Russia had sown spring grains on 14.7 percent of the planned area, or 4.3 million hectares, compared with 2.5 million hectares a year ago.
Ukraine has sown 93 percent of early spring grains on 2.1 million hectares, compared with 1.9 million a year ago.
Winter grains in Russia and Ukraine are in a relatively healthy state, with 4-6 percent and 7 percent of the winter crops in a weak condition, respectively.
“Weather conditions for formation of the new crop (in Russia) are in general close to an average or slightly better,” SovEcon agriculture consultancy said.
The moisture level in soil is good in the main grain producing regions, Anna Strashnaya, a senior researcher at the Hydrometcentre weather forecasting service, told Reuters.
“In general, the condition of grain sowings in Russia is not bad, even good, especially in the Central and Southern federal districts,” Strashnaya said.
In the Volga region, the condition of sowings is worse but warmer weather could still improve their condition, she added.
Analysts at APK-Inform said lack of rains and strong winds had posed risks for early spring grains in Ukraine in March and early April,
But rains arrived in mid-April and improved the condition of sowings, one Ukrainian trader said, adding that there were almost no sowings in bad condition.
Ukraine may harvest a very good crop if there are no heavy rains in May, the trader said, adding that he could raise his forecast for Ukraine’s 2019 wheat crop to more than 27 million tonnes from the current 26.7 million tonnes.