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Russian Harvest Winds Down as Planting Accelerates
USAgNet - 09/22/2021

A high level of conjecture remains around the final size of this year’s wheat harvest in Russia, with some widely varying forecasts released in recent weeks. Dry weather throughout the growing season has had a dramatic impact on yields following record production last year.

Russian agricultural consultancy IKAR reduced its 2021-22 season wheat crop forecast to 74-75 million tonnes (Mt). Lower-than-expected yields in several regions compelled IKAR to revise its August crop forecast of 77Mt. IKAR singled out the country’s Central, Volga and Ural regions as the worst hit by below-average rainfall that has seen production plummet from 85.9Mt in 2020. IKAR pegged the Russian barley harvest in the 17.5-18Mt range, suggesting their production bias for barley was also lower after forecasting an 18Mt crop last month. The consultancy’s corn production forecast is 14-14.5Mt, with total Russian grain output expected to fall in the 117.5-120Mt range. Russian grain exports will be 39.5-40.5Mt, including 31-31.5Mt of wheat, according to IKAR.

Leading consultancy and Black Sea market analyst Sovecon has Russian wheat production slightly higher than IKAR at 75.4Mt. At 33.9Mt, its wheat export estimate is also higher, although the export tax continues to play havoc with Russia competitiveness into some traditional high-volume markets. As a result, Sovecon expects an extended export program, stretching well into the second half of the 2021-22 marketing year which commenced on July 1.

The USDA is setting the low mark this year with its current wheat-production forecast at 72.5Mt, 15 per cent lower than its final 2020-21 output of 85.35Mt. The USDA has exports at 35Mt, which seems high considering domestic consumption is around 40Mt. This pushes ending stocks down to just under 10Mt, but still slightly higher than the average of the last four years at 9.75Mt. At the high end of wheat production estimates is the Russian Grain Union. It has reportedly raised its harvest forecast last week from 76Mt to 78-78.5Mt, indicating the yield gap compared to last season was not as high as expected. It expects more favourable production outcomes as the harvest moves into the Siberian spring wheat regions, contrary to market reports suggesting additional abandonment of spring wheat areas due to meagre yields.

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