Russia Grain Crop Seen Falling to About 78 Million Tons

Farmers in Russia, the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter last season, may reap 77 million to 78 million metric tons of grains this marketing year, said Arkady Zlochevsky, president of the country’s Grain Union.

The wheat crop may reach 39 million to 40 million tons, he told journalists in Moscow today. The estimates are down from 94.2 million tons of grains and 56.2 million tons of wheat last year, according to state statistics data.

The crop this year will include about 5 million tons of grains that farmers will keep from official statistics in order to secure compensation payments for the impact of drought, according to Zlochevsky. This year’s drought damaged crops, prompting 20 of Russia’s 83 regions to declare an emergency and causing 19.6 billion rubles ($630 million) of damage, the Agriculture Ministry said last month.

Farmers have harvested 68 million tons of grain and exported 7.5 million tons since July 1, Zlochevsky said. Shipments “sharply declined” in the last week of September and reached 2.7 million tons last month, down from the union’s earlier estimate of 3 million tons for September. Exports in October are expected to be 2 million to 2.5 million tons, he said.

Figures may decline below the union’s previous estimates for the next two months, he said. The union forecast in August that exports may reach 1.5 million to 2 million tons in November and 1 million to 1.5 million tons in December, Zlochevsky said.

Russia’s total grain export potential is 16 million to 17 million tons for the 2012-13 season, and the country will ship 14 million to 15 million tons of that if the ruble-to-U.S. dollar exchange rate and world wheat prices remain stable, he said.

Wheat Exports

Wheat shipments may decline to 8 million tons this marketing year from 21.6 million tons in the previous period, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. That would make Russia the fifth biggest shipper after U.S., Australia, Canada and the European Union.

Wheat for December delivery increased 0.4 percent to $8.765 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 1:08 p.m. London time. It rose 34 percent in the year.

Russia may need to import 1.5 million to 2 million tons of grain this marketing year, which is a “normal level,” Zlochevsky said.

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