Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Ukraine’s winter grain plantings for the 2012 harvest may be lower than last year because of dry weather this month and forecasts for insufficient rains next month, Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said.
Plantings may decline by 10 percent to 15 percent from the planned 6.7 million hectares (16.6 million acres), Prysyazhnyuk told reporters in Kiev today. Plantings last year were 6.5 million hectares.
“Dry weather is worrisome,” Prysyazhnyuk said. “The national Hydrometeorology Center says that the first 10 days of October will also be dry. Should this happen, we will change the structure of planted areas in favor of spring planting.”
Ukraine plants most of its wheat in winter, when yields are higher than in spring. Rapeseed is only seeded in August and September and most of barley is usually planted in spring. Winter wheat accounts of about half of Ukraine’s grain harvest, estimated by the ministry at 54 million tons for 2012.
Farmers harvested 39 million tons of grains as of yesterday, the minister said. Grain exports may be as much as 25 million tons in the marketing year that started July 1, with wheat accounting for 11.5 million tons, according to Prysyazhnyuk.
“We are concerned about grain export,” the minister said. “We should have exported 6 million tons so far since July 1 and only exported 3 million tons.” Outbound grain shipments in September were 1.1 million tons, he said.
Grain exports have been slowed by an export tax, Prysyazhnyuk said, adding that the Agriculture Ministry will ask the Finance Ministry to remove it.
“We are losing export pace, we are losing markets, we are losing budget revenues and we are losing currency earnings,” the agriculture minister said.
Wheat accounted for 22 million tons of the 39 million tons harvested so far, and barley for 9 million tons, according to the minister. The corn harvest is estimated at 18 million to 19 million tons by the department.
The sunflower harvest has been 6.2 million tons, the minister said. Sunflower average yields have increased to 1.82 tons a hectare from 1.54 tons a hectare last year.
Sugar beets were harvested from 30 percent of planted areas, or 161,000 hectares, the minister said. The sugar beet crop was 5.7 million tons and yields increased to 35.2 tons a hectare from 31.1 tons last year, he said.
Plantings of sugar beet may climb 10 percent for next year’s harvest, Prysyazhnyuk said.
--Editors: Claudia Carpenter,
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