Ukraine's Agriculture Ministry has cut its forecast of 2011-2012 grain exports to 23-25 million metric tons (mmt) from a previous prediction of 27 mmt as a result of slow farmer selling in anticipation of a poor winter grain harvest in 2012.
The drop off is expected to be largely in wheat exports. Oleksander Demidov, head of the ministry's crop department, told reporters wheat exports were likely to be about 6 mmt this season, down from a previous estimate of 9-10 mmt.
Weather forecasters and agriculture officials have said a severe drought that hit Ukrainnian grain areas this fall, combined with winterkill, could damage up to 30% of current winter grain crops.
The Agriculture Ministry said on Monday that Ukrainian winter crops had sprouted on only 6.17 million hectares, or 76% of the total planted area to Dec. 1, due to the adverse weather conditions during the planting period.
The ministry said further sprouting was expected on 601,000 hectares out of the remaining 1.87 million hectares. Based on that estimate, crops will fail to emerge on about 15.7% of Ukraine’s winter grain area.
The ministry also estimated that nearly 33% of sprouted winter crops were in poor condition as of Dec. 1.
Demidov said the 2012 winter grain harvest could fall to about 15 mmt from 25 mmt in 2011 due to extremely bad weather.
Agriculture ministry data published on the web site of Ukraine's grain traders union projected the former Soviet republic would harvest only 8.5 mmt of wheat in 2012 compared to 22.2 mmt in 2011, raising the possibility that it might have to import wheat for the first time since 2004.
However, the ministry said that said Ukraine could avoid having to import wheat in 2012-2013 if it keeps exports at the level of no more than 7.6 mmt in 2011-2012 and analysts told Reuters News Service the official 2012 wheat forecast was too low.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.