Russia’s Grain Crop Seen Falling by 7.2 Million Tons on Drought

Russia, the world’s third biggest wheat exporter, will lose about 7.2 million metric tons of grains in three key growing regions this year due to drought, according to estimates from regional governments and a producer.

Wheat for December delivery rose 3.2 percent to $6.7225 a bushel in the Chicago Board of Trade by 9:01 p.m. Moscow time.

Krasnodar, Russia’s biggest grower which harvested 11.4 million tons of grains last year, may have 4 million tons less wheat and may see its barley crop fall by 500,000 tons this year, the region’s governor Alexander Tkachev said, according to a statement on his administration’s website today. The wheat yield is expected to fall to 4 tons a hectare (2.47 acres) from 5.5 tons a hectare, he said.

“There is a forecast saying we can lose up to a quarter of the harvest,” Tkachev said. Krasnodar’s final grain crop may fall 3 million tons to 8 million tons to 8.5 million tons in 2012, he said.

Valery Zerenkov, governor of the Stavropol region, Russia’s second biggest grower, declared a state of emergency in half of the territory today because of drought, according to an order published on the region’s agriculture ministry website. The grain harvest is expected to be 2.5 million to 3 million tons smaller than last year’s 8.2 million tons, the government said last week.

In Rostov, the country’s third biggest grower, where three of the region’s 43 districts are in drought, rainfall on the weekend wasn’t enough to save heat-damaged grains, said Andrey Kruglikov, director of the agricultural division of OAO Rusgrain Holding, a Russian grain and poultry producer.

Rostov’s Crops

Recent rains may have helped ear maturation on the grain plantings that survived the drought and spring crops including corn, sunflowers and sugar-beets that are still growing, he said by phone from company’s fields.

Rostov may have lost up to 15 percent of its crop, Kruglikov said. Last year, the area harvested 7.7 million tons of grains, according to the state statistics data. That means the region’s harvest may fall by as much as 1.2 million tons, according to Rusgrain.

Heavy rain, hail and storms are forecast in Rostov and Krasnodar regions for today, the Federal Hydrometeorological Center said, without giving a forecast for Stavropol.

The U.S. is seen as the top wheat exporter, followed by Australia in 2011-12, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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