Russian wheat harvest exceeds 90m tonnes on higher yields

While this season’s harvest in Russia reaches record levels, the quality of the crop remains questionable

The Russian wheat crop harvest has advanced by another ten percentage points and reached 90.4 million tonnes as of September 5, with the average “starting” yield continuing to decrease week-on-week as the end of the harvesting campaign approaches.

However, the harvest will remain at record levels, according to official government data released Tuesday.

Russian farmers have already completed the wheat harvesting campaign on 79% of the planted area, with the volume harvested reaching 90.4 million tonnes from 23.2 million hectares (ha) as of September 5.

The yield shrank week-on-week by 5% to 3.9 tonnes per hectare, which is still 31% higher than the equivalent figure this time last year.

By the end of the harvest, yields are expected to decline to 3.6 tonnes per hectare while remaining at a record high compared to last year’s 2.8 tonnes per hectare.

Severe weather continues to affect wheat quality

The harvesting campaign this season is complicated by daily long rains in the main producing regions, which have caused some interruptions to fieldwork and left the pace of harvesting largely at the level of last year.

Rainy weather during harvesting is expected to affect the overall gross grain harvest and its quality negatively.

Loss of grain harvest in the Russian Federation in the current year may amount to 15% of the possible gross harvest, including refraction, the Russian Grain Union suggested earlier.

Refraction is weight loss due to processing grain to a particular basic condition and involves cleaning and drying in an elevator.

“By the sum of factors, it is expected that average grain loss will be around 15%", the expert said.

Due to a significant amount of precipitation in a number of the main grain-producing regions of Russia, refraction this year can be significantly higher than the long-term average, which is about 6%.

“The year is wet, the grain from the fields is wet, and the refraction will be no less than 10%. This is a significant reduction in the final figures”.

Also, due to the delay in the harvesting schedule, farmers have now missed the optimal weather windows, leaving the grain exposed to potential germination and lodge - which leads to big losses.

“There are losses even before the bunker – and there will be after the bunker when the grain goes to dry,” added RGU.

He also confirmed that the quality of the harvested grain is also of concern.

Gross wheat harvest this year in bunker weight, including refraction, could be 82.9 million tonnes, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Barley and rapeseed

Meanwhile, the barley harvest progressed by ten percentage points during the period, with 87% of the planted area completed on 6.9 million hectares, accounting for 21.7 million tonnes.

Average barley yields dropped during the week by around 3% to 3.2 tonnes per hectare – although the figure is still 28% higher than at the same stage of last year.

The rapeseed harvest has now exceeded 2.3 million tonnes from 941,600 hectares, or 40% of the total planted area.

The yield decreased by 7% through the week to 2.4 tonnes per hectare – a 24% increase compared with results shown at the same stage back in 2021, while the pace of harvesting was 40% faster than last year.

The pace of harvesting spring crops was significantly behind last year’s figures, as farmers missed the optimal dates for sowing due to the cold weather.

As for the sowing of winter crops, in most regions of Russia, the pace of sowing is lower than last year.

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