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Dry weather affects Russian winter grains sowing

Reuters, 21.10.15

MOSCOW, Oct. 20 (Reuters) – Russian farmers have delayed winter grain sowing due to dry weather in several regions, analysts and traders said on Tuesday.

This signals higher risks for next year’s crop in one of the world’s key wheat exporters. However rain is expected later this month.

A lack of rain has been reported since September in some of Russia’s southern regions, the main areas for wheat exports to North Africa and the Middle East.

“Farmers in southern regions are waiting for rains,” Dmitry Rylko, head of agriculture consultancy IKAR said, commenting on data from the agriculture ministry, which showed the lengthening delay in sowing.

As of Oct. 20, Russia had sown winter grains on 15.3 million hectares, down 0.8 million hectares from a year ago, or 89 percent of the total planned area, according to agriculture ministry data. Ten days ago the sowing was running ahead of the last year’s pace.

Rylko said part of the delay is technical: “Some farmers are sowing now, but we do not see it because the statistical data is delayed”.

However, farmers in parts of the Central and Volga regions, who had missed their deadline for the end of sowing, decided not to sow, he added.

The delay is noticeable and it raises risks that this year’s target for seeded area will not be met, said Igor Pavensky, deputy head of strategic marketing at rail infrastructure operator Rusagrotrans.

The ministry has played the risk down. “The regions are still sowing, statistics change every week,” it told Reuters.

Moisture needed in parts of the Krasnodar, Rostov and Volgograd regions and the map from the state weather forecaster shows that rain is expected there starting from Oct. 23.

The situation is challenging also because many winter grains have been sown into dry soil, analysts said.

If the condition of winter grains is weak it usually makes the plants more dependent on winter weather patterns. Last autumn winter grains in Russia were hit by dry weather, however, the winter was warm, and favourable spring weather improved their condition.

“The real situation will become clear after winter,” said a trader, who did not want to be identified. “We should pay attention to it, but there is no need to panic.”

The coming winter is expected to be colder than a year ago with sharp temperature changes, RIA news agency reported on Tuesday, citing Alexander Frolov, the head of state weather forecaster Hydrometcentre.

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