September 15, 2011


Drought may affect Ukraine's 2012 grain crop



A senior weather forecaster said on Wednesday (Sep 14) that insufficient soil moisture across Ukraine may affect next year's winter grain crops yield, thus, reducing production.


The head of the agricultural department of Ukraine's meteorological centre, Tetyana Adamenko said that the situation is not crucial but have enough ground for concerns.


Ukraine plans to sow 8.3 million hectares for the 2012 winter grain harvest compared with 8.1 million a year earlier. Ukraine sowed 6.6 million hectares for winter wheat and 1.26 million for winter barley for the 2011 harvest.


According to data provided by the Agriculture Ministry, farms have sown 752,000 hectares for winter grains, including 655,000 hectares of winter wheat, as of September 13.


But Adamenko said many Ukrainian regions suffered from drought and farms were forced to sow in a dry land.


"The situation with moisture is much worse than last year. And the outlook is negative taking into account that we see no rain in September," she said.


"The present situation is similar to that in 2005, when we had a serious drought."


Drought in late 2005 combined with record frosts in January and February killed about 30 % of Ukrainian winter grain crops and farmers boosted the areas sown for spring grains to offset the significant winter losses.


Adamenko said central and northern regions were most affected by the drought but a wet and hot autumn could save the seeds which might be sown in a dry land.


"In central and northern Ukraine, the optimal term for winter sowing is the period from September 10-20. Farmers are sowing in dry soil," she said.


Adamenko said weather conditions were much better in southern and eastern Ukrainian regions thanks to rains in early September.


Winter wheat dominates Ukraine's central, eastern and southern regions.


Ukraine, a traditional producer of wheat and barley, is likely to double its corn harvest in 2011 to 20 million tonnes, according to the Agriculture Ministry.


The ministry also said the 2011 grain harvest could rise to 51 million tonnes from 39.2 million in 2010.


But Adamenko said the ministry's forecast was too optimistic and Ukraine could harvest about 46 million tonnes of grain, including 16-17 million tonnes of corn.


"The situation with corn is very dissimilar region to region and we keep our corn harvest forecast unchanged," she said.


The country's leading UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy said this week it had upgraded its corn harvest forecast for 2011 to 15.5 million tonnes from the previous outlook of 15 million due to a higher yield.


UkrAgroConsult said Ukraine's harvest would rise to 46.8 million tonnes this year.


Ukraine harvested 35.6 million tonnes of grain from 75 % of the sown area as of September 12.

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