Russian Grain Crop Seen by SovEcon Falling Below 70 Million Tons

Russia, the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter last season, may see its grain crop fall 26 percent year-on-year to less than 70 million metric tons due to lower yields after drought damage, SovEcon said.

The wheat crop after drying and cleaning may reach 38 million tons, Moscow-based researcher SovEcon said on its website today. That compares with 56.2 million tons of wheat and 94.2 million tons of grain, in the previous season, according to state statistics data.

Farmers have harvested 67.5 million tons of grains from the start of the campaign on June 15 through Oct. 2, SovEcon said, citing Agriculture Ministry data. That compares with 87.6 million tons a year earlier, it said. Yields dropped to 1.85 tons a hectare (2.47 acres) from 2.31 tons a year earlier, the researcher said.

Arkady Zlochevsky, the Grain Union president, said yesterday farmers may keep about 5 million tons of grains from official statistics in order to secure compensation payments for the impact of drought, bringing the total crop to an estimated 77 million to 78 million tons for the 2012-13 season.

SovEcon maintained its crop figure and said unofficial grain that may be kept out of statistics will be used by livestock and poultry holders, whose animals are also beyond the government’s records.

This year’s drought damaged crops, prompting 20 of Russia’s 83 regions to declare a state of emergency and causing 19.6 billion rubles ($630 million) of damage, the Agriculture Ministry said last month.

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 dropped 0.3 percent to $8.665 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 11:47 a.m. London time. It’s advanced 33 percent this year.

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