July 3, 2012


Ukraine's 2012 corn harvest forecast likely down on dry weather



Ukraine's corn harvest will not exceed yesteryear's 22.7 million tonnes due to hot and dry weather conditions which could ruin government's plans to augment corn output in 2012.


"We see the harvest at about 22 million tonnes," Mykola Kulbida, the head of the state weather forecasting centre, told Reuters.


Ukraine's Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk had said the former Soviet republic was likely to harvest 25-27 million tonnes of corn this year and the increased output would help farmers to compensate for the fall in wheat and barley crops.


Drought during winter crop sowing and severe frost this winter could reduce the Ukrainian wheat harvest to about 12-14 million tonnes from 22.3 million in 2011, forecasters have said.


Ukraine consumes 12 million tonnes of wheat per season but record high wheat stocks of about 12 million tonnes could give the country enough resources for both domestic consumption and exports.


Kulbida said the situation with barley looked even worse.


"The harvest of spring barley is likely to total five million tonnes and winter barley gives us an additional one million tonnes," he told reporters.


Ukraine, which dominates the global barley export market, harvested nine million tonnes of barley in 2011.


"So, the overall grain harvest will not exceed 44 million tonnes," Kulbida said.


Forecasters say that temperatures in July will not reach record levels but a lack of moisture in the soil is preventing grain seeds from growing, reducing the yields and quality of the harvest.


"Late crops like corn are not bad at the moment but we observe the first signs of upcoming problems - yellow leaves and puny seeds," Kulbida said.


He noted that the condition of crops in central, northern and western regions was much better.


Analysts say that poor weather will force them to revise grain crop forecast down.


"We plan to reduce our forecasts for wheat, barley, rye, maybe corn," said Mykola Vernytsky from ProAgro consultancy.


"A lower-than-expected grain yield in top grain producing areas is the main reason," he said.


Vernytsky said the latest data provided by the government showed the wheat yield at no more than 1.8 tonnes per hectare which meant that the harvest could not be higher than 12 million tonnes this year.


Ukraine harvested 247,000 tonnes of wheat as of June 25 and the yield totalled 1.59 tonnes per hectare. The yield stood at 3.35 tonnes per hectare at the same date in 2011.


Vernytsky said the harvest of barley in Ukraine would not exceed 6.8 million tonnes, while corn output could be about 24 million tonnes.

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