(Updates with wheat harvest details from fourth paragraph.)
Feb. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Ukraine asked grain traders to limit wheat exports after drought and frosts damaged the winter crop, Volodymyr Klymenko, head of the country’s Grain Association said.
“The ministry asked us not to sign too many contracts for wheat,” Klymenko said in an interview from Kiev today.
Winter grain damage may be the worst since at least 2003, Liza Malyshko, a UkrAgroConsult analyst, said Feb. 7. About 1.3 million hectares (3.21 million acres) of grains, mostly winter wheat, didn’t emerge in autumn, according to Agriculture Ministry data. About 27 percent of sprouted grain plants are in good condition, the ministry said.
Ukraine’s wheat harvest is seen declining to 13.7 million metric tons in 2012, UkrAgroConsult’s Malyshko said. That compares with last year’s 22.3 million tons, when the country reaped a record 56.7 million metric tons grain harvest, according to the state statistics office data.
This year, the worst drought in at least 50 years weakened winter grains, most of which is wheat, from September through November. Low temperatures at the end of January and this month caused further damage to plants raising government concerns of stock availability for domestic demand.
Ukraine reduced its grain exports estimate to as low as 23 million tons for the marketing year started July 1 after drought damaged winter grains for the 2012 harvest, Serhiy Kvasha, head of the agriculture markets department at the Agriculture Ministry, said on Dec. 5.
The ministry also raised its estimate of ending stockpiles of milling wheat to 5 million tons as of June 30 from a previous forecast of 2.4 million, Kvasha said in December. He was unavailable to comment when Bloomberg news phoned his office today.
Grain exports have been restriction free for a little more than a month. Ukraine taxed barley exports from the summer through Dec. 31 and corn and wheat from the summer through October, when the duty was scrapped due to last year’s record crop. Before the summer, the country’s grain exports were limited by quotas for seven months following the summer drought in 2010.
--Editors: Sharon Lindores, Nicholas Larkin
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