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Russian wheat forecasts hit by June heat, rain expected

Russian wheat forecasts hit by June heat, rain expected

MOSCOW: Estimates of Russia’s wheat crop and exports were cut on Monday as analysts and a weather forecaster gave their latest assessment on the negative impact of June’s dry, hot weather.

Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter which ships its grain to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, started harvesting the 2019 grain crop in June when there was a heat wave in several regions.

The condition of plantings is better than around the same date a year ago but not by much due to hot and dry weather on June 1-25, Anna Strashnaya, a senior researcher at the Hydrometcentre weather forecasting service, told Reuters.

“We thought that (the grain harvest) would be much better (than a year ago), but it did not work out,” she said. “I think the situation will even out now: not very hot weather and … rains are expected to arrive.”

Strashnaya did not disclose her current or previous estimate of the 2019 grain crop but said that the winter wheat crop was expected to be higher than in 2018 with the spring wheat harvest relatively flat.

IKAR, a leading agriculture consultancy in Moscow, cut its forecasts for the country’s wheat harvest and exports earlier on Monday – for the second time in less than two weeks – following the unusually hot, dry weather.

It lowered its estimate for Russian wheat exports in the 2019/20 marketing season, which started on Monday, by 300,000 tonnes to 36.2 million tonnes.

IKAR also cut its forecast for Russia’s 2019 wheat harvest by 700,000 tonnes to 79.3 million tonnes. Russia harvested 72.1 million tonnes of wheat in 2018.

SovEcon, another agriculture consultancy, had cut its 2019/20 wheat export estimate on June 20.

Analysts at Russian rail operator Rusagrotrans have cut their 2019 wheat crop forecast by 900,000 tonnes to 79.9 million tonnes, the RIA news agency quoted it as saying.

Russia’s official grain or wheat export data for the 2018/19 marketing season, which ended on June 30, is yet to arrive.

On exports, IKAR estimated 2018/19 wheat exports at 35.2 million tonnes, excluding supplies to Kazakhstan and Belarus, which share a free customs border with Russia. Including these supplies, Russia’s total wheat exports will reach 36 million tonnes, IKAR said.