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06 march 2013 11:35 Ukraine on track for 'bumper' grains harvest

Favourable weather has put Ukraine on course for its biggest harvest since gaining independence 22 years ago, UkrAgroConsult, raising its estimate for the corn crop top a record 21.2m tonnes.

The growing season ahead of the 2013 harvest started, well allowing farmers to plant "most intended areas to winter grains within optimal time frames" - meaning that crops "entered the winter in largely good and satisfactory condition", the influential analysis group said.

And crops had been largely spared damage from winter cold too, retaining "high productivity potential", UkrAgroConsult said, rating 62.2% of winter grains as "good", in condition terms, the best reading for late February since at least 2008.

A year before, after a harsh winter, only 26.8% of winter crops were rated "good".

'Bumper grain crop'

"Abundant precipitation" over the winter had also prepared soils well to support growth once crops emerge from dormancy, replenishing moisture levels - sapped last year by drought which sent wheat output tumbling by nearly 30% - back to long-term average levels.

Evidence even pointed to farmers being well prepared for further crop care too, acquiring nearly 300,000 tonnes of nitrogen fertilizers, 44% of the amount needed, a figure four points higher than a year ago.

Preliminary orders of pesticides, at 29,300 tonnes, were also up 5.8%.

UkrAgroConsult said: "If spring conditions are favourable, Ukraine may harvest a bumper grain crop of up to 53m tonnes in 2013," a result which would be the biggest since the country left the Soviet Union in 1991.

The group last month forecast the harvest at 51.9m tonnes.

The upgrade reflected in the main better hopes for corn, for which the harvest was pegged at 21.2m tonnes, 1.2m tonnes higher than previously forecast, thanks to a raised estimate for sowings.

Spree of forecasts

The forecast is the latest in a series of estimates for 2013-14 harvests, with the world corn crops are seen showing a large improvement, assuming a return to "normal" weather in the US, and wheat output a smaller rise, held back by the impact of lingering drought in the US Plains.

Abares, the Australian commodities bureau, releasing its first forecasts on Tuesday pegged Ukraine wheat output at 20m tonnes, a rise of 27% on its data, along with a 41% rebound in Russian wheat production, to 55m tonnes, and a 64% recovery to 16m tonnes in the Kazakh harvest.

UkrAgroConsult forecasts a 48% increase to 21.0m tonnes in Ukraine wheat output, despite a 0.6% dip in plantings, to 6.91m hectares, reflecting the squeeze on spring sowing area fostered by a clamour for corn.

Source: agrimoney.com