Russian drought seen by Ministry as destroying 7.6% of crops

Russia’s crops, including grains and legumes, were destroyed by drought on 7.6 percent of the total sown area, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Plantings on more than 5.7 million hectares (14.1 million acres) were ruined by drought across 21 of 83 regions in the country, the ministry said today on its website. The situation was classified as an agricultural emergency in 19 areas, according to the statement.

The drought caused about 37 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) of damage, the ministry said, citing a preliminary estimate from the regions. Grain yields are seen declining to 1.98 metric tons a hectare from 2.73 tons a year earlier, according to the ministry. Farmers harvested 47.7 million tons of grains and legumes from 54 percent of fields as of Aug. 20, compared with 54.4 million tons a year earlier.

Siberia, which is harvesting grains now, may reap 10.8 million tons, down from 14.6 million tons in 2011, said Vladimir Petrichenko, director of Moscow-based researcher OOO ProZerno. The region accounts for about 17 percent of the national crop on average, he said.

Harvesting of corn and rice, which aren’t grown in Siberia, will be a key element for Russia’s crop figure, Petrichenko said today by phone in Moscow. Corn harvesting has started in the Southern Federal District, with the first 50,000 tons reaped from 2 percent of the sown area in the Krasnodar region, he said. Rice harvesting will start in October, he said.

The corn crop is estimated at more than 7.5 million tons, and the rice harvest may be 1 million tons, ProZerno estimated.

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