June 23, 2011


Ukraine weather forecaster sees grain crop rising


Ukraine's grain harvest is set to rise to 42.5-44.5 million tonnes this year, up from 39.2 million tonnes in 2010, Mykola Kulbida, the head of the country's weather forecasting centre, said on Wednesday (Jun 22).


He said the harvest was likely to include 18-19 million tonnes of wheat and 13-14 million of corn. Ukraine harvested 16.8 million tonnes of wheat and 11.9 million tonnes of corn in 2010, a season affected by drought.


A senior agriculture official said this week that the farm ministry raised its forecast for Ukraine's 2011 grain harvest to about 50 million tonnes from the previous estimate of over 45 million tonnes.


But Kulbida said the current weather condition were far from excellent.


"Only perfect weather conditions allow Ukraine to harvest record crops. Last time it took place in 2008. The key weather factor of this year was a lack of rain," Kulbida told a news conference.


He said leading Ukrainian grain production areas - Odessa, Kiev, Zaporizhya, Dnipropetrovsk - faced a lack of soil moisture and the grain yields there could lose from 5 to 25 % depending on field.


"A major part of Ukraine was without rains for 30-45 days. Rains in June improved the situation but for some grains it was too late," Kulbida said.


Ukraine is located in the zone of risky planting and its harvests are heavily dependent on weather conditions.


A severe drought in 2010 cut Ukraine's grain crop by 15% and left the neighbouring Russia without a third of its harvest. Kulbida said weather was preparing even more surprises for farmers later this summer.


Farmers in Ukrainian southern regions have already launched the 2011 grain harvesting, threshing 82,300 tonnes of grain as of June 21 with an average yield of 3.08 tonne per hectare according to data provided by the Farm Ministry.


But poor weather could delay the harvesting and reduce the crop, Kulbida said.


"We expect heavy rains, rainstorms, and squalls to arrive in Ukraine at the end of this month. They could damage some planting areas and poor weather in southern regions will delay harvesting," Kulbida said.


Ukrainian southern regions produce about a third of the country's grain harvest and wheat dominate the volume.


Ukraine plans to harvest 15.7 million hectares of grain in 2011, including 3.4 million of corn and 8.0 million of winter grains, mostly winter wheat.

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