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Rain brings relief to winter grains in Russia

MOSCOW - Rains have come and brought some relief to winter grains in parts of Russia's southern regions, a state weather forecaster said on Thursday.

Wheat
Soft red winter wheat has been hit hard by fusarium head blight this year. The fungus shrivels grain and reduces the average weights from harvest, cutting profits.

MOSCOW - Rains have come and brought some relief to winter grains in parts of Russia's southern regions, a state weather forecaster said on Thursday.

The market has been focused on Russia's dry weather this week and the risk of damage to next year's crop in one of the world's key wheat exporters.

The majority of Russia's Krasnodar region and the southern part of the Rostov region have had rain, said Anna Strashnaya, head of the agricultural department at state weather forecaster Hydrometcentre.

Rains in the northern part of Rostov region and western part of Volgograd are expected in the near future, she added.

"We are waiting, really waiting," Strashnaya said.

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Southern regions are the key areas for Russia's wheat production and exports to North Africa and the Middle East.

Dry weather poses risks for 30 percent of the sown area of winter grains, down from 37 percent a year earlier, the head of Russia's Grain Union, a non-government farmers' lobby group, said earlier on Thursday.

However, the moisture level in the soil in that area is lower than last year, Arkady Zlochevsky told reporters.

"These risks are usual for autumn; everything will depend on winter and spring," he said.

If the condition of winter grains is weak, it usually makes the plants more dependent on winter weather patterns.

Last autumn winter grains in Russia were also hit by dry weather, but warm winter and favourable spring weather improved their condition to the extent that a near-record 2015 harvest is expected.

The Grain Union says Russia will harvest 102-103 million tonnes of grain this year, compared with 105 million tonnes in 2014.

Russian farmers have delayed winter grain sowing because of dry weather in several regions, analysts and traders said this week.

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By Oct. 21, Russia had sown winter grains on 15.5 million hectares, down from 16.2 million hectares a year ago, or 90 percent of the total planned area, according to agriculture ministry data.

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