KYIV- Most Ukrainian winter grain crops are in excellent condition thanks to favourable weather that could lift the 2021 harvest to a record high above 75 million tonnes, a senior government official said on Thursday.
"We understand that the weather will affect the volume, but as of now ... if we do not predict any force majeure, we see a very positive result," Taras Vysotskiy, deputy economy minister in charge of agriculture, told Reuters.
He said the volume could include 29-30 million tonnes of wheat, 9.5 million tonnes of barley and at least 34 million tonnes of corn.
The former Soviet republic harvested around 65 million tonnes of grain in 2020, including 25.1 million tonnes of wheat, 30.3 million tonnes of corn and 7.76 million tonnes of barley.
Vysotskiy said a jump in volume could allow Ukraine to boost export shipments to 50-53 million tonnes in the 2021/22 July-June season from 45.4 million tonnes expected for the current season.
He said the export volume might include 21-22 million tonnes of wheat compared with 17.5 million tonnes in 2020/21.
He added that the share of milling wheat in the 2021 output could be no less than 65%, almost the same as in 2020.
Vysotskiy said a bumper harvest and stable domestic consumption would make any strict export restrictions unnecessary, even taking into account the curbs imposed by neighbouring Russia.
Russia doubled its wheat export tax to 50 euros ($60) per tonne in an attempt to curb high food price inflation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The excellent condition of winter wheat and no need to re-sow damaged areas of winter crops will lead to a slight reduction in the sowing area of sunflower and in its harvest, Vysotskiy said.
Ukraine, the world's largest sunflower oil exporter, is likely to sow 6.1 million hectares of sunflower and the harvest could total 13.5 million tonnes, he said. The country harvested 14.3 million tonnes of sunseed in 2020, according to analysts.
He said that despite a recent increase in rapeseed prices, Ukraine was likely to keep the area under the crop unchanged around 1 million hectares.
Ukraine plants mostly winter rapeseed and the increase is possible only for the 2022 harvest, he said.
Ukraine may harvest up to 2.7 million tonnes of rapeseed and 3.1 million tonnes of soybeans in 2021.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by David Goodman and Emelia Sithole-Matarise) ((email@example.com; +380 44 2449150; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))