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Russian Grain Crop Seen by USDA Unit Advancing 21% in 2013-14

Russia’s grain crop is forecast to increase by 21 percent to 86 million metric tons in 2013-14 compared with drought-affected 2012-13, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service said.

The grain crop is seen at about the five-year average mark in the season starting July 1, compared with 70.9 million tons in 2012-13, the FAS said in a report on the USDA website. That’s below the government target of 95 million tons, which Russia’s Agriculture Ministry set at the end of January to meet domestic and exporting needs.

Grain shipments are forecast to increase to 20 million tons in 2013-14 from 15.5 million tons in 2012-13, according to the report dated March 29. Wheat exports are seen rising to 15 million tons from 10.5 million tons.

Russia, where drought seared a quarter of the grain harvest in 2012, plans to boost growing in the new marketing year to lower food prices domestically and advance exports. The government decided on March 25 to increase spending to 30 billion rubles ($950 million) for spring sowing and animal farm support this year.

The wheat crop is seen rising about 33 percent to 50 million tons due to improved winter crops in the Southern and North Caucasus federal districts and greater soil moisture in the Ural and Siberian areas, according to the USDA’s unit. Barley is expected to advance 15 percent to 16 million tons, rye 41 percent to 3 million tons, and corn is seen dropping 15 percent to 7 million tons.

“The forecast is based on yield trends, plantings and estimated harvesting area, and assumption of average weather conditions for the rest of the growing season,” the FAS said.

Farmers are expected to shift sown areas toward non-grain fodder crops and oilseeds such as soybeans, rapeseed and flax, from grains in a bid for stable incomes, it said.

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