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Russian Grain Crop Seen Falling to 82 Million Tons This Year

The grain crop in Russia, the world’s third biggest wheat exporter, may decline to 82 million to 85 million metric tons in 2012-13 because of drought, said the country’s biggest carrier of the commodity by rail.

Grain exports are seen at 18 million tons at the most, Oleg Rogachev, first deputy chief executive officer of transportation company Rusagrotrans, said by phone in Moscow today. Last year, Russia harvested 94.2 million tons of grains, state statistics data shows. It exported a record 27.6 million tons, Rogachev said.

The wheat crop is expected to be between 47 million and 49 million tons, according to Rusagrotrans. That’s down from 56.2 million tons a year earlier, according to state statistics.

Russia’s grain exports have slowed this year due to drought in the south and a rail disruption in the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk area because of flash floods, Rogachev said. July shipments are expected to be 1.2 million tons, Rusagrotrans estimates. That compares with 2.4 million tons in 2011, according to state statistics data.

Wheat for September delivery fell by 0.4 percent to $8.8075 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 4:05 p.m. Moscow time. It rose earlier by as much as 1.5 percent.

Central Russia, which has good crop potential this year, will ship more this season to ports in the south and the west, Rogachev said. It will increase exports through Russia’s Baltic coast to more than 2 million tons this season compared with 1.3 million tons in 2011, he said.

Grain Surplus

Siberia, which is far from the exporting ports, will have a surplus of about 1 million tons of grain from the new crop and may send it to central and northwestern areas by rail for domestic needs, Rogachev said.

Russia isn’t expected to restrict grain exports this year, Rogachev said. In 2010-11, the country banned grain shipments for most of the season in order to meet domestic needs after the worst drought in at least half a century. The country lost about 37 percent of grains after it harvested 60.9 million tons that season.

Russia’s total grain stocks are seen at about 10 million tons, including 4.5 million tons which are state-held, according to a Rusagrotrans estimate.

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