Ukraine sees high 2016 grain harvest, record exports

KIEV, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Ukraine’s 2016 grain harvest is likely to be around 63 million tonnes, three million more than last year.

Better than expected weather this spring and summer increased the yield of wheat and other grains, agriculture ministry official Leonid Sukhomlin said at a briefing on Wednesday.

He said that the wheat harvest could total 25.5 million tonnes in clean weight, but cautioned that the forecast might not be reliable.

“Against a background of changing rules and high taxes, some farmers prefer to hide the real volume of their output and the wheat harvest could even be 27 million tonnes,” he told Reuters.

Ukraine, one of the three top global grain exporters, harvested 60 million tonnes of grain, including 26.5 million tonnes of wheat, in 2015. Grain exports in the 2015-16 season, which runs from July to June, reached 39.4 million tonnes.

Sukhomlin also said that the harvest of corn, another top Ukrainian commodity, could reach 26 million tonnes this year, up from 23.2 million tonnes in 2015.

Ukraine’s UZA grain export union sees total grains production at 63.5 million tonnes, while exports could reach an all-time high of 41 million tonnes, UZA director Volodymyr Klimenko said at the same briefing.

Sukhomlin said this season’s exports could include 17 million tonnes of wheat. Ukraine exported 16.9 million tonnes of wheat in 2015-16.

Ukraine has exported 4.88 million tonnes of grain so far this season compared with 4.72 million a year earlier, according to ministry data.

The volume includes 2.4 million tonnes of wheat, 1.9 million tonnes of barley, 444,000 tonnes of maize and some tonnage of other grains.

WINTER SOWING

Sukhomlin said Ukrainian farmers were likely to increase the area sown for winter grains for 2017 to 7.3 million hectares from 7 million last year thanks to better weather.

Poor weather last autumn forced farmers to reduce the area under winter grains. The area under winter wheat could be up to 6.5 million hectares for the 2016-17 season, he said.

“This year the weather is much better and the final sown area will depend on it,” he said.

Ukraine is located in a risky planting zone and its winter wheat harvest is highly dependent on the moisture content in soil during the autumn sowing, air temperatures in winter and favorable weather in spring.

High productive winter wheat accounts for around 95 percent of Ukraine’s total wheat output.

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