RUSSIA – Russia has harvested its largest grain crop in nearly 40 years, exceeding 134 million metric tonnes (MMT) according to official reports, moving Russia into the number one position of global wheat exporters.

The report includes 85.5 MMT of wheat, 20.5 MMT of barley, 12 MMT of corn, and almost 15.8 MMT of other grains and pulses, according to official sources.

FAS/Moscow increased its forecast for wheat production by 2 MMT to 85 MMT reflecting the updated Russian official statistical data.

In its latest reports, Rosstat increased significantly its wheat production number to 85.8 MMT (including Crimea).

This production estimate was higher than forecasted by most leading analytical agencies, where the main reason for such an increase for Rosstat was that its estimate for the wheat harvest in bunker weight (89.4 MMT) was 1.3 MMT higher than that of the Ministry of Agriculture number (88.1 MMT from 100% of harvested area).

The greatest discrepancies occurred in the Volga Valley Federal District (+0.4 MMT in bunker weight), the Siberian Federal District (+0.4 MMT), and the Central FD (+0.3 MMT).

Rosstat also applied a record low re-faction ratio of 4% for calculating clean weight for the wheat harvest (the average re-faction ration for the last 5 years is reported at 4.5%).

Average wheat yields were high in all regions at an average 3.12 MT/HA (2.68 MT/HA in 2016), up 16% from MY2016/2017.

The most noticeably high yields were reported in the Volga Valley where they were up 29%, in the Central Federal District where they were up by 20% and in the Urals up by 16% compared to 2016.

The corn production outlook for MY2017/18 was down by 10% to 13.7 MT, compared to production in MY2016/17.

Rosstat’s corn crop estimate was 12.1 MMT, which experts believe that the Rosstat corn production number will see an increase of at least 1.5 MMT by the end of March 2018 when Rosstat will publish the final figures for the 2017 harvest.

As of December 20, 2017, 86% of total corn area had been harvested.

Unfavourable weather conditions in the summer also resulted in lower yields in the main producing federal districts accounting for 90% of the total corn crop in Russia.

In the Central Federal District yield is 5.78 MT/HA (11% less than in 2016/2017), the Southern Federal District is 4.58 MT/HA (7% less) and the Northern Caucasus is 4.99% (18% less).

The records said the production forecast for barley slightly decreased from 20.5 MMT to 20.2 MMT to match USDA’s official number and the latest statistical data.

Post revised ending stocks for barley for MY 2017/18 from 1.06 MMT as reported in October to 768 TMT matching more closely the USDA official number.

FAS/Moscow did not make any other changes to the barley PSDs from its previous forecast in October.

Rosstat reported that total production of barley in 2017 should reach 20.59 MMT, 14% higher than production in 2016, and 18% higher than average production of barley in Russia in 2012-2016 (16.79 MMT).

The average barley yield was reported at 2.62 MT/HA, an 18% increase on average from 2016/17.

Barley yields were noticeably strong in the Volga Valley FD (30% higher than in 2016), Central FD (up 30%) and the Urals (up 22%).

In summary, the average yields for wheat and barley were up 16% and 18% respectively which is an increase from MY 2016/17, while corn yields decreased by 9%.

FAS/Moscow forecast exports for the main grains at 46.2 MMT, including 36.0 MMT of wheat (including wheat flour in grain equivalent), 5.7 MMT of barley, 4.5 MMT of corn.

Increasing world wheat market-prices, weak domestic prices versus international prices, and the opening of new markets are expected to stimulate additional Russian grain exports.