Soviet-Era Grain Record Seen Tumbling On Bumper Russian Harvest
A quarter century after the collapse of the USSR, Russian farmers are finally poised to beat the record for grain production that the country set during the Soviet era.
The harvest will total at least 130.7 million metric tonnes this year on bumper wheat and corn crops, said Vladimir Petrichenko, director general of Moscow-based consultant ProZerno. That would push production 2.6% above the previous all-time high in 1978, a year before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan under leader Leonid Brezhnev.
Farmers will gather more wheat and corn than ever before, while the barley crop will be the largest since 2008, ProZerno figures show. Those estimates may go higher still as Siberia collects more grain, Petrichenko said by phone.
Estimates for the crop have been rising as ample rains spurred growth in European parts of the country, contrasting with dry conditions that have hurt crops in the US and Canada. The gains cement Russia’s position as a top producer this year. It’s expected to be the biggest wheat exporter in the 2017-18 season, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
“Wheat may even come in at 85 million tonnes,” Petrichenko said. “That would be the upper limit.”
ProZerno’s estimates for Russia’s main grain crops are 80 million tonnes of wheat, 19 million tonnes of barley, and 16.3 million tonnes of corn.