Russian/Kazakh Wheat Production Under Threat

The Russian Ministry have dropped their 2010/11 grain production estimate, saying that drought in the main southern and central areas of the country will reduce output by 3-6 MMT from their previous estimate of 90-93 MMT. That implies a crop of around 87 MMT, 10 MMT down on last season.

The Ministry have been uncharacteristically bullish about grain production hopes all season. This latest estimate brings them into line with last month's forecast from SovEcon of 84-89 MMT.

If recent history is anything to go by, SovEcon always seem to be (at least) one step of the game ahead of the Ministry. It seems that they still are, as today they have cut their estimate to 82-86 MMT, and warned that it could go lower as soaring temperatures and lack of moisture continue to plague the region.

A state of emergency has been declared in Tatarstan (marked 1 on the map below), where almost a million hectares, a third of the planted area, is said to have been lost A similar area has suffered crop damage in nearby Bashkorostan (2), with hot and dry conditions also causing damage in Voronezh (3), Samara (4), Saratov (5), Ulyanovsk (6) and Orenburg (7).

For your convenience I've stitched a couple of maps together, highlighting the major wheat areas in the region and also neighbouring northern Kazakhstan, which has also been suffering from a similar affliction to Russia.

The red line marks the Russian/Kazakh border, with the main growing regions highlighted in the darker green. The three main Kazakh wheat regions Kostanai, North Kazakhstan, and Akmola, account for about 70 percent of the country's total wheat output.

I've also thrown in the USDA's latest percent of normal precipitation map for Apr 1st up until Jun 20th. The following article is well worth a read in conjunction with these maps.

Historically, grain production in Kazakhstan suffers from serious drought two out of every five crop seasons, according to Mark Lindeman of the USDA. "Since virtually none of the wheat is irrigated, yield and production are marked by frequent and sharp year-to-year fluctuations," he says. See Kazakhstan Wheat Production: An Overview here