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Russian Grain Harvest Declines 31% on Drought Damage

Aug. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Russian farmers reaped 41.5 million metric tons of grain so far, 31 percent less than a year earlier, after the country’s worst drought in at least a half century damaged crops, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Production had reached 60.5 million tons at this point last year, the ministry said in a statement on its website today. The harvest is half way through and yields are 22 percent lower. Wheat output reached 29 million tons, or 26 percent less than last year, and barley 5.9 million tons, for a 47 percent drop.

Russia has declared drought emergencies in 32 crop-producing regions and cut its grain-crop forecast to 60 million to 65 million tons from 97 million tons. The country banned grain and flour exports from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 to ensure domestic supply and damp prices.

In the Volga district of western Russia, production slumped 59 percent to 6 million tons as yields plunged 31 percent, the ministry said. In the Central district, output dropped 48 percent to 9.7 million tons. The figures relate to bunker weight before the grain is dried and cleaned.

Farmers in some regions started winter-grain sowing, planting 356,400 hectares (881,000 acres) of land, compared with 964,800 hectares at the same date last year, the ministry said.

Winter-crop sowing has been delayed this year because of the drought. The government expects winter-grain plantings to shrink 33 percent to 12 million hectares, obliging farmers to plant more lower-yielding spring crops.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net; Maria Kolesnikova in Moscow at mkolesnikova@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter@bloomberg.net; Amanda Jordan at ajordan11@bloomberg.net

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