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Good weather bolsters chance of large grain crop in Russia, Ukraine

Reuters, 20.03.18

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Favourable weather ahead of spring grain sowing in Black Sea producers Russia and Ukraine is bolstering the chances of another large harvest due to good levels of soil moisture, analysts and industry officials said.

Active spring grain sowing in Russia and Ukraine, major global exporters of the foodstuff, is expected to start later than last year due to a delayed spring and deep snow cover.

Farmers in Russia plan to sow spring grains on 31.0 million hectares in 2018, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, and are expected to benefit from healthy supplies of fertilizer. Russian farmers have bought 30 percent more fertiliser than a year ago so far due to lower prices for crop nutrients, Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev told a weekly government meeting on Thursday.

The country harvested a record grain crop of 135 million tonnes in 2017 when the weather was particularly good, and, according to Tkachev, may harvest more than 110 million tonnes this year if conditions remain favourable.

The late start for spring grain sowing in Russia and Ukraine is unlikely to affect the crop, analysts said. However, farmers in Russia have fewer funds for the sowing campaign this year and this could affect crop yields, said Arkady Zlochevsky, the head of Russia’s Grain Union, anon-governmental farm lobby. If money is tight, farmers are less able to put the latest technology to use in their business, he added.

The agriculture minister told the government meeting that demand from farmers for short-term loans was up compared with a year earlier. However, according to him, the reason for this is a new state mechanism that made such loans more attractive. Farmers’ seed needs are 97 percent covered, he added. Winter grains in Russia and Ukraine are in a relatively healthy state after winter, with more information about the Russian side expected towards the end of April, Dmitry Rylko,the head of IKAR agriculture consultancy, said. “The picture (in Ukraine) is very good and we do not expect any significant losses after the winter,” said Tetyana Adamenko, head of the agriculture department at the state weather centre.

“The situation is fabulous for the spring grain sowingsbecause the level of moisture in soil is significant.” According to Yelizaveta Malyshko at the consultancy UkrAgo Consult, the condition of winter grains in Ukraine is the best in four years.

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