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Dry weather adds to risks for Russia’s grain crop

Reuters, 15.04.20

Dry spring weather with little rain expected in the next two weeks is starting to raise concerns about this year's grain harvest among Russian farmers and analysts.

Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, is still expected to harvest a larger crop in 2020 than a year ago as farmers sowed a bigger area with winter grains, and their sowings remain in a healthy state after a mild winter.

However, the lack of rain in the main grain exporting southern regions is starting to support Russian wheat prices, Dmitry Rylko at IKAR agriculture consultancy said, adding that rains were “badly needed" after a dry March.

SovEcon, another consultancy said the weather remained unfavourable for the new crop.

“The crops are still in good shape but ample precipitation will be needed in the next few weeks, especially in Russia's south," it said.

The weather was dry in the majority of winter wheat regions last week. The situation is better in the central and Volga regions as more precipitation is expected there, SovEcon added.

The spring grain sowing in Russia has been running ahead of last year's pace due to the early arrival of spring weather.

As of April 10, farmers had sown spring grains on 3.5 million hectares, or 12% of the total area, compared with 1.6 million hectares a year ago.

“There are risks," a farmer in the southern Krasnodar region said.

Last winter was warm with a lack of snow, and there is a lack of rain this spring. Some light rains are expected this week, and none are seen in the following weeks so far, he added.

Moisture in the soil is still far from its normal level, but the sowings are not damaged yet, another farmer in Russia's south said.

The Russian Agriculture Ministry currently sees the 2020 grain crop at 125.3 million tonnes, while SovEcon sees it at 129.8 million tonnes, including 84.4 million tonnes of wheat. In 2019, the grain crop totalled 121.2 million tonnes, including 74.5 million tonnes of wheat.

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