Russia’s Grain Crop Seen Facing the Risk of Frosts, Drought

Russia, the world’s third-biggest wheat exporter last year, is forecast to get frosts and drought, which pose a risk for new season crops, the Federal Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Service said.

There is a “very high” probability of frosts returning in the Southern and North-Caucasus federal district in February or March, Alexander Frolov, head of the service, known as Roshydromet, said at a news conference in Moscow today.

The two districts, Russia’s main grain growing and exporting areas, harvested 24.6 million metric tons of grain, or about 35 percent of the national crop this season, according to state statistics data.

The weather is “abnormally warm” in these districts, Frolov said. Oleg Deripaska’s Kuban Agricultural Holding, which has grain crops that have started to germinate in the south, said on Feb. 12 that if frosts return, that may jeopardize the harvest.

It’s been dry in parts of the Volga federal district and the south-eastern European territory in Russia making drought possible there this year, Frolov said.

About 9.5 percent of winter crops across the country could be destroyed by frost and dampness this year, compared with the multi-year average of 8 percent to 8.5 percent, Frolov said, adding a new estimate will be released around Feb. 25.

Drought Impact

Russia harvested about 70.7 million tons of grains this season, 25 percent less than the year-earlier period, because of drought in Volga, Southern and Siberian regions in 2012, according to state statistics data. The government set a target to harvest 95 million tons in 2013-14, Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fedorov said Jan. 31.

“The main question is what will be the actual winter crops’ loss. Risks are high,” Andrey Sizov Jr., managing director of the Moscow-based SovEcon consultancy, said by e-mail today. “The ministry’s target of 95 million tons looks more and more unrealistic.”

Wheat for May delivery rose 0.2 percent to $7.3725 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 12:25 p.m. London time.

Russia may ship 10.5 million tons of wheat and be the fifth-biggest exporter of the grain after the U.S., the European Union, Canada and Australia this season, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That compares with a record shipment of 21.6 million tons in 2011-12, according to the USDA.

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