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Black sea producers back on track for large 2020/21 wheat exports

Reuters, 15.05.20

* Rains improve crop prospects in Russia and Ukraine
* Kazakhstan starts active sowing with good moisture reserves
* Wheat export quotas remain in question for the new season
* Russia to remain the world's top wheat exporter -USDA

MOSCOW, May 14 (Reuters) - Beneficial May rain put Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan - all major Black Sea producers - back on track for large wheat exports in the new marketing season after a dry April, analysts said on Thursday.

A large wheat crop, which remains subject to weather in the coming months, would also reduce concern about the three countries' own food security in the 2020/21 season starting on July 1, having limited exports during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Soil drought was registered in part of regions in April," Roman Vilfand at Russian weather forecaster Hydrometcentre told reporters on Thursday. "Quite intense rains smoothed this situation, but they did not fully replenish moisture reserves."

The summer months are expected to be warmer than usual in Russia, with Stavropol and Crimea among regions still in need of more rain, he added.

Russia is currently expected to remain the world's top wheat exporter with 35 million tonnes of wheat exports in 2020/21, up from 33.5 million tonnes this season, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said this week.

Russia's grain export quota for this season, which the government imposed to secure domestic needs during the coronavirus crisis, was large enough for traders to export what they initially planned but still added to nervousness, said Dmitry Rylko at the IKAR consultancy.

"I do not think the quota is necessary for next season," Rylko told Reuters, adding that investment activity in the sector could decline if Russia imposes the quota every eason.

The Russian government is still considering such a move.

Kazakhstan, an important Central Asian flour supplier, also initially imposed a quota on wheat and flour exports but has removed it becuase of good prospects for the new crop, it said this week.

If Kazakhstan harvests a wheat crop of 12.5-13 million tonnes in 2020, it would be able to increase 2020/21 exports to 7-7.5 million tonnes from 6 million tonnes this season, Kazakh Grain Union official Yevgeny Karabanov told Reuters.

Wheat exports in Ukraine are expected to fall to 17-19 million tonnes in the new season because May rains have so far missed the Odessa region, which is a major producer.

However, Ukraine's economy ministry, which set the wheat export quota at 20.2 million tonnes this season, this week raised its crop forecast and will consider the new season's quota in July, when crop prospects are clearer.

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