Russia’s Drought Seen by Forecaster Extending Through August

The drought in Russia, the world’s third biggest wheat exporter, is seen continuing with less than the average amount of rainfall expected in grain producing regions this month, according to the state weather forecaster.

Rainfall is expected to be 35 percent less than normal in the Volga federal district and may be 5 percent to 22 percent below average in the Siberian Federal District in August, Russia’s Federal Service on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

The country’s crop forecast may be downgraded to 75 million metric tons if the drought continues, the Agriculture Ministry said yesterday, according to Interfax. Last year, Russia harvested 94.2 million tons of grains, according to the state statistics data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects Russia to export 12 million tons of wheat this season, down from 21.3 million tons in the preceding period. This would make it the fifth biggest cereal exporter after the U.S., Australia, Canada and the European Union.

“This drought won’t have any impact on the total grain harvest figure across the country, because grain has completed its maturation period as of now, except for the northern part of Siberia,” Anna Strashnaya, head of agricultural forecasts department at Russia’s state weather center, said by phone in Moscow today. A lack of rainfall will be “dangerous” for late crops, including corn, sunflower and sugar-beets in North Caucasus, Black-Earth regions in central Russia and in the Volga area, she said.

In the country’s southern regions, rains may stay at 17 percent to 35 percent below the norm, it said. The area has almost finished reaping crops, according to the regional governments’ data.

Below Average

Rainfall will be 30 percent to 35 percent below average in the Central Federal District, according to the forecaster. The crops were estimated as good and near a record in some parts of the area last month by the ministry. Most of the harvesting will be done in August.

Temperatures across Russia are seen at 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the norm, the forecaster said.

Russia’s southern regions accounted for 35 percent of the national crop in 2011, the Volga Federal District harvested 23 percent, the Central and Siberian districts accounted for 18 percent and 15.6 percent respectively, according to the state statistics.

Wheat for September delivery dropped 2.4 percent to $8.675 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 12:09 p.m. London time. The cereal has risen 33 percent this year.

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