Poor weather may cut Ukraine winter grain area by 1.2 million acres – forecaster


Torrential rains across most Ukrainian regions after a severe drought could leave around 1.2 million acres of winter grain area unsown and winter wheat is under major threat, a senior state weather forecaster said on Tuesday.

Ukraine’s winter wheat harvest is highly dependent on moisture content in the soil during the autumn sowing, air temperatures in winter and favourable weather in spring.

“The outlook is very gloomy,” said Tetyana Adamenko, the head of the agriculture department for the state weather centre.

“The already sown area is only 64 percent of the planned acreage … and there is a high probability that 15-20 percent (of the total area) could not be sown. It could be 500,000 hectares, mostly wheat,” she said.

Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry previously said the area under winter grains should total 7.4 million hectares (18.3 million ac), including 6.2 million hectares (15.3 million ac) of winter wheat and one million hectares (2.47 million ac) of winter barley.

But traders and analysts are more optimistic.

“There is a risk, but I do not expect a significant fall in the sowing area. My forecast is 6.4 million hectares and a harvest of around 24 million tonnes of wheat,” one overseas trader said.

Analyst UkrAgroConsult said earlier on Tuesday it expected the wheat sowing area to total 6.35 million hectares and the harvest to reach 24.2 million tonnes.

Adamenko said that at least half of Ukraine’s regions had suffered from drought during the second half of the summer and autumn and uncertain weather prospects and recent heavy rains had forced some farmers to halt sowing.

“The soil is not expected to dry and the question is whether the machinery can get to the fields. At such temperatures, and they will be lower than normal, you need 5-7 days for the soil to dry,” she added.

“If last year we had late sowings, this year we could have extremely late sowings,” Adamenko noted.

Late crops are usually weaker and are more exposed by the winter cold.

“We need to rely on an abnormally warm November and December,” she said.

But Adamenko said that rains could also be positive for already sown winter crops and for plants sown in spring.


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