Russia will harvest more than 123 million tonnes of grain after drying and cleaning in 2021, the agriculture minister said on Thursday, cutting the official estimate after months of being more positive about the crop than main analysts have been.
Russia is the world's largest wheat exporter, supplying it mainly to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It competes with the European Union and Ukraine, among others.
The ministry had previously expected this year's crop to reach 127.4 million tonnes. It maintained that estimate from the spring despite main analysts gradually cutting their estimates because of dry weather.
Speaking at a government meeting, the minister, Dmitry Patrushev, did not disclose the new estimate for the wheat crop. His ministry did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
IKAR, one of the leading agriculture consultancies in Moscow, said that it expects Russia's 2021 grain crop to reach between 119.5 million and 121.7 million tonnes, of which 40 million to 41.5 million tonnes would be available for export.
Its 2021 wheat crop forecast was narrowed to between 75 million and 75.6 million tonnes.
In bunker weight - before drying and cleaning - Russia is expected to produce 127 million tonnes of grain, Patrushev said, of which 119 million tonnes have already been harvested.
The minister said Russian farmers are expected to sow winter grains for the 2022 crop on 19.5 million hectares this autumn.
Their sowing campaign has been delayed by dry weather in several regions. So far they have planted on 17.6 million hectares, down from 18.3 million hectares around the same date a year ago.
In August, Russia produced some highest quality wheat for the first time since the start of this season as a dry summer boosted protein content."The protein in the south is even better than it needs to be," a Russian trader said.