Russia aiming for steady grain crop in 2016

Moscow | Reuters –– Russia, one of the world’s largest wheat exporters, is aiming for an unchanged grain harvest in 2016 compared with the current year, the agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

If the weather remains favourable during the winter and spring, Russia, a major wheat supplier to Turkey, Egypt and Iran, will harvest a large grain crop of more than 100 million tonnes for the third year in a row.

Russia may harvest 104 million tonnes of grain in 2016, the agriculture ministry told Reuters. It did not provide further details on the next year’s crop prospects.

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Russia has already harvested 103 million tonnes of grains after drying and cleaning in 2015, down from 105 million tonnes in 2014 — the second-largest crop in its post-Soviet history.

The ministry’s forecast of the 2016 grain harvest is four million tonnes higher than the estimate of SovEcon agriculture consultancy of 100 million tonnes, issued on Dec. 1.

“The weather remains warm and calm in December, there has been no change in our forecast,” Andrey Sizov, the head of SovEcon, said on Tuesday.

As of late November, the country’s winter grains were in a better condition than last year but in a worse state than the average of the last five years — about 89 per cent of them were in good or satisfactory condition and 11 per cent were in poor condition.

Dmitry Rylko, the head of the IKAR consultancy, said the ministry’s forecast could be achieved as the condition of winter grains has recently improved.

Russia may harvest between 93 million and 99.5 million tonnes of grains depending on the weather conditions and financing of spring sowing, Igor Pavensky, deputy head of rail infrastructure operator Rusagrotrans, told Reuters.

Most of the worries about the condition of winter grains currently concern the Voronezh, Volgograd, Rostov and Belgorod regions, he added.

Reporting for Reuters by Polina Devitt in Moscow.

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