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Russian Winter Rye Seen by Forecaster Damaged by Dampness

Winter rye in Russia, the world’s second-biggest producer of the grain, was damaged by excess moisture, the national weather center said.

Eleven percent to 20 percent of winter rye seeds failed to sprout on 3 percent of the sown area, Anna Strashnaya, head of the center’s agro-meteorological forecasts department, said yesterday in a phone interview in Moscow. Last year, winter rye sprouted well on all fields, she said. Rye plantings were damaged when snow layers as thick as 45 centimeters (17.7 inches) started to melt under weak frosts in Russia’s central regions of Tver, Yaroslavl, Smolensk, Vladimir, Ivanovo and Kostroma.

“This means rye is in a worse condition than a year earlier,” Strashnaya said. If more rye, or at least 30 percent, of the planted seeds fail to sprout by the spring that starts in March in Russia, farmers will have to re-plant rye for the 2013-14 crop, she said.

Russia’s rye harvest dropped 30 percent to 2.1 million metric tons this season from 3 million tons in the previous period because of drought, according to the state statistics data. Russia is the second-biggest producer after the European Union, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates. Russia uses rye in breads and feedstuffs, and exports the grain by itself or in a mixture with wheat known as meslin. Rye accounted for about 3 percent of the national grain crop this season.

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