26 Nov 2010 16:24

Russian grain harvest could be 80-90 mln tonnes in 2011 - expert

MOSCOW. Nov 26 (Interfax) - Russia's grain harvest, which was reduced by lengthy summer drought this year to 60.3 million tonnes, could well increase to 80-90 million tonnes next year, General Director at the company ProZerno Vladimir Petrichenko said at the Russian Agro-Holdings conference in Moscow on Friday.

The low-end forecast is 80-81 million tonnes, Petrichenko said, but if the weather stays good, Russia could reap as much as 90 million tonnes.

Noting that 5.5 million hectares of winter crops have been planted this year (3 million fewer than last year), Petrichenko said, "The winter plantings look okay at this point." He estimated the proportion of bad plantings at 9.4%, but said he thinks that will go down, and the plantings that are in satisfactory condition now "will become good."

At variance with the official figures, Petrichenko estimates that this year's harvest will weigh in at 62.7 million tonnes. This is quite enough to meet the country's internal needs, which he said will decrease to 70 million tonnes. President of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevich offered the same prediction at the conference. Petrichenko said he reckons carry-over grain stocks will stand at 10-11 million tonnes on July 1, 2011, which is "a completely normal indicator."

Petrichenko went on to say he considers Russia's grain export ban mistaken. "We need to recognize this and not repeat it, so that grain moves and brings profits to those that produce it," he said.

As to market prices, Petrichenko said that grain-price growth continues and will do so until the fate of Russia's Intervention Fund is determined - the Fund contains 9.5 million tonnes of grain.