December 5, 2011
Ukraine's 2011/12 grain exports forecast has been lowered by its Agriculture Ministry to 23-25 million tonnes from a previous forecast of 27 million tonnes as farmers produced less wheat than anticipated in expectation of next year's poor crop.
Oleksander Demidov, head of the ministry's planting department, on Friday (Dec 2) told reporters that wheat exports were likely to be about six million tonnes this season, down from a previous estimate of 9-10 million tonnes.
"The export of grain could be 23 to 25 million tonnes. The shipments of wheat are expected at about six million tonnes," he said.
Demidov said Ukraine had harvested about 57 million tonnes of grain in bunker weight so far this year against about 40 million at the same date in 2010, when drought affected crops.
Weather forecasters and agriculture officials have said a severe drought this year which has hit leading Ukrainian grain producing regions, is likely to damage about 30% of current winter grain crops and cut grain harvests.
Ukraine consumes 26 million tonnes of grain per year and the government had previously said the country's exportable surplus could total at least 27 million tonnes this season.
But a slow pace of shipments in the first months of the season and a lack of railway wagons are likely to cut the shipments to about 20 million tonnes, according to the head of Ukrainian traders' union UZA Volodymyr Klymenko.
Ukraine exported only 6.9 million tonnes of grain in the first five months of this season due to restrictions on export of wheat, barley and corn.
In October, the parliament cancelled export duties for wheat and corn but kept in place the levy on exports of barley.
Most analysts say Ukraine could export 22-24 million tonnes of grain in 2011/12 compared to 12.7 million in 2010.
Demidov said winter grains had sprouted on 77.5% of the sown area and 30-40% of them were in poor state. He said the 2012 winter grain harvest could fall to about 15 million tonnes from 25 million in 2011.
Winter wheat and winter barley dominate Ukraine's winter grain harvest. Farms sowed a total of 8.1 million hectares for the 2012 winter grain harvest, including 6.5 million hectares of wheat and 1.2 million of barley.
Demidov also said that farms were likely to reseed the killed winter grain area with spring grains.
The Farm Ministry last month said Ukraine planned to sow an additional two million hectares of spring grains and 300,000 hectares of soy in 2012 in a bid to compensate for losses in winter grain crops already affected by poor weather.