Russian wheat sowings 'threatened by dry weather'


The hot dry summer in the Black Sea region is stirring concerns for next winter wheat crop, as the European Commission warns on Russian prospects after a hot dry summer.

While US wheat sowings are expected to fall sharply this year, in response to low prices, sowings in Russia are expected to boom, thanks to the weak rouble which is supporting export demand.

But the low soil moisture levels are beginning to throw doubt on those assumptions, with Ukrainian prospects also questioned.

Winter sowings under threat

Mars, the EU crop-monitoring body noted hot dry weather in the period between the start of August and September 20.

In Russia, that dry weather poses a threat to winter wheat prospects.

"The sowing campaign of winter cereals is timely so far in the Northern and Eastern regions, but the current dry topsoil conditions in South-Western regions raise some concern about the timely sowing and emergence of winter cereal," Mars said.

Winter grains sowings are expected to be up some 6% year on year, at 17.35m acres, according to the Russian Agricultural Ministry.

Winter crop sowing has already been completed on more than 10.3 hecteares, the Agricultural Ministry said on Monday.

Ukrainian concern

The news follows concerns about sowings in Ukraine.

On Monday analysts UkrAgroConsult said on Monday warned of the effect of dry topsoil on winter wheat sowings there.

Although Mars did not comment on winter wheat sowing prospects in Ukraine, it did note the dry weather.

"Temperatures remained above average since the beginning of August," Mars said.

"A substantial rain deficit was observed in western oblasts."

Corn yields hurt

A hot dry end to the summer has also hurt summer crops, Mars said, as it trimmed corn yield hopes inside the EU.

 "In many regions, the analysis period was one of the warmest on our records," Mars said.

"Hot and dry conditions in Eastern Romania, Bulgaria and Southern Ukraine as well as in southern France and western Italy partially affected water supply and shortened the duration of grain filling in corn and sunflower crops, thus reducing yield expectations."

Dry French, German weather

French corn yield hopes got a downgrade.

"Corn experienced a rapid maturation due to the warm and dry conditions and rapidly depleting soil moisture levels from mid-August onwards," Mars said. "The corn forecast is now below average."

"Only a few significant rainfall events were recorded this summer throughout the country," the bureau said.

The same results were seen in Germany, where the harvest had to begin early "due to the rapid canopy senescence".

Mars trimmed its forecast for corn yields by 5.4% compared to its August estimate, to 6.84 tonnes per hectare.

Earlier this month consultancy Strategie Grains saw EU corn yields at 6.70 tonnes per hectare.


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