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Russian Farmers Look For Rain In May As Dry April Brings No Relief

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Farmers in Russia's southern regions, the main wheat producing and exporting area, are looking to potential rains in May after April's mostly dry weather continued last week, analysts said.

Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, and Ukraine, another major supplier of wheat via the Black Sea, have been sowing spring grain and watching their winter grain develop amid a lack of precipitation this year.

There was no significant improvement with rains in Russia's south last week, IKAR and SovEcon, the two leading agriculture consultancies in Moscow, said.

'Game Changer'

"Rains in May are starting to look like a game changer for Russia's south, ... which suffers from dryness," SovEcon said.

The weather models predict heavy rains in early May but this week is expected to remain dry, it added.

Temperatures this year may turn out to be higher than usual, the RIA news agency reported, citing Roman Vilfand, head of science at Russian weather forecaster Hydrometcentre.

He did not rule out 2020 becoming one of the top-5 hottest years. It was not clear from the report if he was speaking about Russia or the planet in general.

Spring Grains

Russian farmers had sown spring grains on 5.5 million hectares, or 19% of the total area by 24 April, compared with 4.8 million hectares a year ago.

In Ukraine, where spring grain sowing is 52% complete, recent rains across western, northern central and eastern regions may have improved the situation after dryness, analysts said.

SovEcon also said it could review its 2020 grain crop forecast in early May. Its April forecast was for 129.8 million tonnes, including 84.4 million tonnes of wheat.

IKAR cut its forecast for Russia's 2020 wheat crop to 77.2 million tonnes from 79.5 million tonnes last week due to the persistent dry weather.

In 2019, Russia's grain crop was 121 million tonnes, including 74.5 million tonnes of wheat.

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