Russian Spring-Grain Sowing Seen More Than Double Year-Ago Pace

Grain sowing in Russia, this season’s fifth-biggest wheat exporter, is proceeding at more than double last year’s rate after an early spring in southern regions, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Spring grains and pulses covered 1.45 million hectares (3.6 million acres) as of yesterday, the Moscow-based ministry said today in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News questions. That compared with 590,000 hectares a year ago, it said.

Russian farmers, who lost a quarter of their crops to a drought last year, sped up sowing in a bid to meet the ministry’s goal of reaping as much as 95 million metric tons of grains. The government aims to cover 30.3 million hectares in total with spring grains and pulses, today’s response showed.

Farmers in the Southern Federal District sowed spring crops on 796,300 hectares so far, about 30 percent of the target for the region and up from 255,100 hectares last year, the ministry said. In the North Caucasus Federal District, plants covered 276,800 hectares, 36 percent of the local goal and 12,300 hectares more than a year earlier, it said.

The two districts form the main cultivation region for grain exported from Russia.

Farmers in the Central Federal District planted spring crops on 372,800 hectares, 9 percent of the targeted area and up from 21,000 hectares a year earlier, the ministry said.

The total grain and pulse harvest for the 2013-14 season beginning July 1 is forecast at 90 million to 92 million tons and may reach 95 million tons if weather is favorable, the ministry said today. Last year’s crop came to 70.9 million tons, according to government statistics.

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