July 7, 2011


Heavy rains damage 30% of Ukraine crops



Heavy rains since Sunday (Jul 3) created major problems for Europe's major grain producer Ukraine as 30% of its crops are reported to have been lost.


According to weather forecasters, more rainfall is expected over all Ukrainian territory. The forecasts came as USDA attaches in Kiev cautioned that they were poised to follow a string of other forecasters in revising estimates for Ukraine's grain harvest to reflect the rains which "will definitely have a negative impact on the production of major crops".


"Private sources' unanimous opinion is that overall production of wheat and barley and Ukraine will decline from levels expected before the onset of the rains " the attaches said.


The downpours which in June landed six inches (150mm) of rain in four days on some farms compared with a monthly average of three inches have affected mainly central areas where USDA attaches said they had seen some "lodging" stalk breakage which makes for difficult harvesting and cuts hopes for crop recovery when drier conditions return.


"Wheat and barley crops are most at risk " the attaches added, noting forecasts of 10-30% losses in affected areas with quality also "expected to decline". On a national basis analysts at Ukraine s Hydrometcenter on Tuesday (Jul 5) flagged a one million tonne downgrade to 42 million tonnes in their forecast for the total grains harvest.


Private analysis group UkrAgroConsult cut its forecast for the wheat crop to 19.8-20 million tonnes, down from 20.4 million tonnes, and for barley production by 350,000 tonnes to 8.2 million tonnes, warning that the rains had compromised grain quality and encouraged fungal diseases.


The USDA a month ago estimated Ukraine's wheat crop at 19 million tonnes and barley harvest at 8.5 million tonnes. The rains are also reported to have slowed harvesting of winter crops although at this stage it is difficult to judge the impact.


The harvest had reached 650,000 hectares as of July 4, reaping 1.8 million tonnes comprising 1.6 million tonnes of barley, 71,000 tonnes of wheat, and 34,000 tonnes of rapeseed.


Last year farmers had harvested 911,500 tonnes of grain from 375,000 hectares by July 1. Separately, data on Wednesday showed growers in neighbouring Russia harvesting more than one million tonnes of grain at an average yield of 4.48 tonnes per hectare, up to 3.42 tonnes per hectare last year.

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