July 19, 2010

Machinery shortage worsens Ukraine crop problems


Ukraine's crop difficulties are being exacerbated by a shortage of machinery and threatens wheat too, UkrAgroConsult, slicing harvest estimates.

The influential analysis group, explaining a 1.6-million-tonne downgrade to its Ukraine grain forecast, said that winter barley crops in the south of the country, where harvesting begins, had been ready a week earlier than usual.

However, wet weather in the early summer prevented harvesting, such that barley crops were still standing when rapeseed was ready to reap.

"Farmers having not enough machinery preferred to harvest rape because its price is at least three times higher than that of barley," the Kiev-based group said.

Meanwhile, the delays threatened wheat crops too, tying up combine contractors due at northern farms. With hot and humid conditions encouraging weeds, while encouraging grain maturity, wheat quality looked to have been "badly effected".

"With the air temperature exceeding 30 degree Celsius from time to time, the plant ripening process sped up, the growth of cereals was insufficient and they generated small, feeble grains," the analyst group said.

The comments came as UkrAgroConsult extended this week's spate of wheat production downgrades, which have covered countries from France to Western Australia, and sent prices soaring.

Also on Friday (July 16), SovEcon, the Moscow-based analysis group, cut its Russia grain estimate for the third time in three weeks, as the worst drought in 130 years extended in western Siberia.

UkrAgroConsult cut its forecast for the overall grain crop to 45.1 million tonnes, with barley taking the brunt of the downgrade. The barley harvest was pegged at 10.2 million tonnes, 1.0 million tonnes than previously expected.

The wheat harvest was estimated to come in at 18.6 million tonnes, 480,000 tonnes below the June forecast.

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