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Black Sea grain export growth may be limited, U.S. Wheat says
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — When wheat exports from the former Soviet Union countries came roaring on to the global scene three years ago, trade patterns quickly changed. The following years saw more limited exports from the Black Sea, however, and it appears that — at least in the near future — informed observers have mixed feelings regarding continued export growth, according to an analysis by U.S. Wheat Associates.

In its latest newsletter, U.S. Wheat reported that U.S. Wheat-Rotterdam regional vice president George Galasso and U.S. Wheat-Moscow marketing specialist Valentine Shustova attended the annual convention of Russian and Ukrainian grain analysts in Moscow last week. There, they heard a consensus among participants that the Russian agricultural sector had effectively "maxed out" on area and yields with little room for more wheat production under the current level of investments.

Export forecasts going into 2010 pointed to little to no growth in wheat exports from the present level of between 8 million and 10 million tonnes per year, U.S. Wheat said.

The outlook for Ukraine was similar in that there is little room seen for increased wheat production in the near term, especially with a good amount of traditional winter wheat area going to spring-planted barley for 2006.

Earlier this summer, Shustova participated in a Ukrainian wheat crop tour which gave proof to the estimates that, since 2000, soybean area increased to about 250,000 ha in 2004 from 61,000 ha, with soybean acreage continuing to expand this year. Ukrainian production has room to grow, but much of the expansion may well be in crops other than wheat.

Modernization in Ukraine continues to face challenges, according to U.S. Wheat. From the Ukrainian tour, Shustova reported that the application of inputs (fertilizer, herbicide, etc.) appeared irregular.

New capital investment was not particularly evident, she said, with much of the farm machinery dating back 10 or more years and with infrastructure, including elevators, going back to the Soviet days.

Official grain inspection in Russia is still in a "period of transition," but anticipated regulation on the certification of surveyors and labs may be published in October.

Wheat exports from the three FSU countries — Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine — that make up the bulk of exports from the Black Sea region soared to 25.82 million tonnes in 2002-03, up 89% from the previous year's exports of 13.64 million. Exports plunged to 7.3 million tonnes in 2003-04, but rose again to 15 million last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting 20 million tonnes of exports from the three countries in 2005-06. Specifically, USDA is forecasting exports of 10 million tonnes from Russia, 4 million from Kazakhstan and 6 million from Ukraine.
MGR Archive 2.10.2005
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