November 9, 2011
Russia may still harvest bumper grains next year
Russia may still be on for a bumper grain harvest next year, even with a shortfall in winter plantings below government targets.
Unlike in neighbouring Ukraine, where officials believe drought may cause the loss of up to 30% of sowings, Russia's winter grain areas have received ample rain.
Indeed, some regions received too much early in the planting season, causing seeding delays which have left Russia looking at 16.8 million hectares of winter grain sowings, according to Moscow-based analysis group SovEcon, short of the 18 million hectares that the farm ministry had targeted.
However, the rains have left the grains which have been planted "looking pretty good", Andrey Sizov, the SovEcon managing director told.
While official data on crop condition will not be available until late this month, satellite information shows that grains "look quite good".
And even winter sowings of 16.8 million hectares were high enough to support a strong harvest, coming in close to 2008 levels when Russia set its harvest record of 108.2 million tonnes.
Prospects have also been boosted by increasing farm spending on fertiliser despite complaints over costs, the USDA's Moscow office said.
"Yields of winter crops could benefit as a result of increased application of mineral fertiliser," the bureau said, flagging a 6% rise to 2.32 million tonnes in farm nutrient stocks as of last month.
Farmers "continue to complain about permanently increasing inputs prices", the briefing added, noting cautions from growers that "unless the government administratively curbs fuel prices, as it did in the spring 2010 and 2011, the spring field work may be under threat".
The report also lifted by one million tonnes to 20 million tonnes the bureau's forecast for Russia's grain exports in 2011-12, despite an acknowledgement that shipments were set to slow from a record start, as easily accessible supplies for ports dry up and the Russian winter sets in.
The upgraded forecast is one million tonnes higher than the official USDA estimate, which stands to be revised on Wednesday (Nov 9) in the department's latest monthly Wasde report on crop supply and demand.
However, the figure is lower than the estimate of 20 million tonnes forecast revealed two weeks ago by the International Grains Council.