Winter Sowing Conditions Still Difficult In Russia – for Sep. 9, 2010

Rains in some parts of central Russia have made conditions favourable for

winter grain sowing, although problems remain in other areas, the director of the Hydrometcentre weather-forecasting service said Aug. 31.

Roman Vilfand also told reporters that mid-September would be the final deadline for sowing winter grains in Russia after the worst drought in more than a century.

The drought ravaged many key agricultural regions, slashing Russia’s crop of grain, sunflower seeds and sugar beets and delaying the start of the winter grain-sowing campaign, also putting its 2011 harvest under threat.

“Before Aug. 23 the soil was absolutely unfit for winter sowing,” Vilfand told a news briefing. “However, we had precipitations of varied intensity between Aug. 25 and Aug. 29. Regions themselves take decisions whether to sow or not.”

He said that conditions for winter sowing are favourable in the northern part of the Central Black Soil zone, which has very fertile soil. But in other parts of the zone, rains have been insufficient.

In some regions of North Caucasus, Russia’s main breadbasket, the soil remains too dry for winter sowing, but in the south of this region rains are expected between Sept. 15 and Sept. 20, which will favour the sowing campaign.

“It is very difficult to say how the drought will affect the yields,” Vilfand said. “We had a similar very strong drought in 1972, but yields of winter grains after it were very good.”

The Agriculture Ministry said Aug. 31 that so far Russia had harvested 34 per cent less grain than it did a year ago, while the winter sowing area was 74 per cent down on the year.

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