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Russian wheat-sowing regions in poor shape, depend on winter weather

Reuters, 17.11.20

MOSCOW, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Conditions for Russia's winter wheat sowings remain tense, especially in part of Volgograd, Stavropol and nearby regions, despite some improvement seen in recent weeks, analysts said on Monday.

Farmers in Russia, one of the world's largest exporters of the grain, have been sowing winter wheat in dry soil this year, increasing risks for the 2021 crop.

"Despite some improvement in recent weeks, plants are still in a bad shape overall," Sovecon agriculture consultancy said in a note. "A lot will depend on how harsh this winter will be and how much precipitation we will see."

Farmers have already sown winter grains for next year's crop on 99.7% of the planned area, or on 19.1 million hectares, up from 18.1 million hectares around the same date a year ago, according to the agriculture ministry.

The share of sowings in bad condition, which Russian officials usually estimate and release in late November, is likely to be close to a record high, Dmitry Rylko, the head of the IKAR consultancy, said.

Only 6-8% of Russian winter grain sowings were in bad condition in the previous two years when the country got large crop.

The situation is also complicated by the lack of moisture in subsoil level in several key regions, which means higher risks for both winter and spring grains in 2021.

"It is already clear that Russia's 2021 winter wheat yields will not see a record yield, but we may still have decent yields," Rylko said.

Russian farmers have sown the largest area with winter wheat this autumn, which will partly compensate bad weather. Precipitation in several southern regions, awaited this week, may still improve the situation as well.

Prospects for Russia's 2021 wheat crop will improve further in case of warm and snowy winter and unhurried spring, Rylko added.

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