Ukraine to up winter wheat acreage

Reuters / Ukraine may increase the winter grain-sowing area for the 2013 harvest to 8.4 million hectares from the originally planned 8.2 million hectares should favourable weather continue.

Wet and warm weather has dominated almost all Ukrainian regions in October and only southern regions lack soil moisture. Meteorologists say Ukraine is experiencing the warmest autumn on record.

Ukrainian farms sowed a total of 8.4 million hectares of winter grains, mostly winter wheat last year, but seeds on 1.2 million hectares did not sprout due to a severe drought from July to November.

Meanwhile, grain traders are speeding up shipments of Ukrainian wheat to take advantage of high global prices and because they fear export curbs are just around the corner.

Ukraine, whose wheat harvest this year was down by a third because of bad weather, has exported more than three million tonnes of wheat so far this season and traders have collected a further 540,000 tonnes for immediate shipment, Pro-Agro consultancy said.

Foreign markets were paying US$335 per tonne f.o.b. for Ukrainian milling wheat as of mid-October, up from $305 in September and $295 in August.

Ukraine exports more than 60 per cent of its grain to the Middle East and North Africa, its biggest clients being Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel.

The government says Ukraine plans no curbs on wheat exports for now, but will consider imposing limits if the high level of exports threaten to push up the price of bread at home.

Keeping the price of bread stable is a key plank of the ruling Party of Regions’ campaign for the Oct. 28 parliamentary election.

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