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Ukraine winter wheat in good condition

Reuters / No more than 400,000 hectares of winter grain crops, or up to five per cent of the sown area, are likely to be reseeded this spring against 1.5 million hectares in 2012, a senior Agriculture Ministry official said Feb. 19.

“We expect the reseeding of three to five per cent (of winter grain sown for the 2013 grain harvest),” Oleksander Demydov, the head of the ministry’s planting department, told reporters.

Ukraine sowed a total of 8.1 million hectares of winter grains, mostly winter wheat, for the 2013 harvest or almost the same acreage as a year earlier.

Demydov said much better weather conditions last autumn and this winter had allowed crops to pass through the cold season with minimal losses.

Drought in the 2011 autumn and the severe frosts that followed it killed at least 1.3 million hectares of winter grains last year. Crops on another 200,000 hectares failed to thrive and were reseeded as well.

Demydov said that 92 per cent of Ukrainian winter grain crops were in good or satisfactory condition as of Feb. 18.

He also said that weather conditions for spring grain sowing were much better this year than in 2012.

A senior weather forecaster said temperatures above zero with no deep frosts in the near future had created favourable conditions for spring grain sowings in Ukraine’s central, eastern and southern regions.

According to the data provided by the Agriculture Ministry, the first 10,000 hectares of spring grains had been sown in southern Ukraine as of Feb. 15.

Maize and barley traditionally dominate Ukraine’s spring grain area while winter wheat amounts to about 95 per cent of Ukrainian overall wheat output.

Agriculture Minister Mykola Prysyazhnyuk said last month the former Soviet republic planned to harvest 19 million tonnes of wheat in 2013 while the total grain output could be at 50 million tonnes.

Ukraine harvested 46.2 million tonnes of grain last year, including 15.8 million tonnes of wheat.

Ministry officials have said that Ukraine was likely to keep its grain exports at a high level of 21 million to 23 million tonnes this season, despite a decrease in the harvest.

Exports totalled 22.8 million tonnes in 2011-12.

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