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Drought May Reduce Grain Crop by 4.1%

Russia’s grain crop will come to between 81.5 million and 85 million metric tons this year, the country’s Grain Union said Monday, lowering its forecast by as much as 4.1 percent because of drought.

Russia may export about 20 million tons of grain in the marketing year that started July 1, as 24 million tons of stockpiles help meet demand from domestic and international buyers, Grain Union President Arkady Zlochevsky told reporters, reiterating the exports forecast despite the drought.

Russia consumes about 77 million tons of grain a year, he said. The union had previously forecast the grain crop at between 85 million and 87 million tons.

Should the crop drop further, domestic demand will be met by reducing exports, he said. Some drought-hit regions are urging restrictions on exports, Zlochevsky said, adding that there is no need for curbing overseas sales, and any such restrictions will be “bad” for the market.

Russia effectively banned wheat exports for part of the 2007-08 marketing year by taxing shipments.

Emergencies may be extended to two more Russian regions, bringing the total to 19, as the most destructive drought for crops since record-keeping started 130 years ago continues to damage grains, Zlochevsky said.

Twenty percent of Russian grain plantings, or 9.6 million hectares, were ruined by the drought. The Agriculture Ministry has said it may lower its crop forecast to below 85 million tons. Russia harvested 97 million tons of grain last year.

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