Russia Grain Crop Seen Below Government Target After Drought

The grain crop in Russia, projected to be among this season’s five biggest wheat exporters, is set to fall below a government goal after drought hurt plants in some regions, according to the state weather agency.

The harvest may reach 90 million to 94 million metric tons in the 2013-14 season begun July 1, Alexander Frolov, head of the Federal Agency on Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, said today at a government meeting near Moscow. That compares with the Agriculture Ministry’s 95 million ton target.

The projected crop would still exceed the five-year average by about 6 million tons, according to Frolov. Drought reduced last year’s grain and legume harvest by 25 percent to 70.9 million tons and killed plants on about 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres), or 1.9 percent of the sown area so far this year, mostly in the Volga Federal District, government statistics show. The total area affected by drought is 6.5 million hectares, according to agriculture ministry data.

“Russia’s southeastern part, first of all the Volga Federal District and some parts of the Black Earth regions, suffer from drought,” Frolov said. “Some locations had less than 15 percent to 30 percent of the precipitation norm in June and in the beginning of July.”

Wheat for September delivery climbed 1.9 percent to $6.7575 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade by 9:06 a.m. The cereal has fallen 13 percent this year.

Agriculture in Russia is dependent on favorable weather because technology is less advanced. Parts of the Volga district, which accounted for about 21 percent of last year’s national crop, are forecast to have rains in the next few days that may reduce the effect of drought, Frolov said.

Russia will ship 17 million tons of wheat in 2013-14, U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates show, tying with Australia and ranking behind the U.S., Canada and the European Union. That would exceed the prior period’s 11 million tons, according to the USDA.

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