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Poor weather may cut east European wheat harvest

KIEV, April 4 (Reuters) - Bad weather during winter and
spring sowing campaigns is likely to reduce the wheat harvest in
top east European wheat producers Russia, Ukraine and Romania,
analysts and forecasters said.

The wheat crop in Ukraine is likely to fall 35 percent to
around 17 million tonnes this year, the state weather centre's
Tetyana Adamenko said, adding that of the 6 million hectares
sowed for the 2016 winter wheat harvest, only about 5 million
hectares is likely to be threshed.

"We expect that up to 1 million hectares sowed to winter
wheat would be reseeded because plants are too weak," Adamenko
said, adding that 26 percent of Ukrainian winter grain area was
under risk.

UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy put Ukraine's 2016
wheat harvest at 17.3 million tonnes.

The country, which consumes about 12 million tonnes of wheat
in a season, harvested 26.5 million tonnes of wheat last year.

Romania sowed about 1.9 million hectares of wheat and rye, a
12 percent decrease in acreage from the previous season and an
11-year low, as widespread torrential rain in the autumn of 2015
delayed field works outside the optimal sowing period.

Some 95 percent of Romania's total acreage under wheat and
rye, or about 1.8 million hectares, is sown to wheat. Analysts
see this year's wheat crop at 5 million to 7.5 million tonnes.

Last year, Romania reaped 7.85 million tonnes of wheat from
2 million hectares.

The wheat crop from Russia, a major global wheat exporter,
is expected to decline in 2016 compared with the previous year
due to a lower sown area.

SovEcon, a leading agriculture consultancy, estimates
Russia's 2016 wheat crop at 57 million tonnes, down from 62
million tonnes last year, it said on Monday.

Its estimate is based on weather forecasts for a cold April
and May in Russia's eastern regions and which may prompt farmers
to reduce their spring wheat sowing area.

Russia has already sown 2 percent of planned spring grains
on 679,600 hectares. The pace of sowing is slower than last
year, according to the Agriculture ministry data.

The country's winter grains area was also reduced due to
unfavourable weather in autumn, but the condition of winter
grains is better than a year ago thanks to a warm winter.


However, Bulgaria and Hungary have indicated good prospects
for their wheat harvests.

Bulgaria had a mild autumn and winter and wheat sowings are
developing well, said Angel Vukadinov, a senior member of
Bulgaria's national Association of Grain producers.

"The plantings are developing faster for this time of the
year. The weather has been very favourable so far. I am
optimistic about the crops," Vukadinov said, giving no forecast.

Bulgaria harvested 4.75 million tonnes of wheat and 757,000
tonnes of barley in 2015. It has sown 1.1 million hectares to
wheat last autumn.

Hungarian officials have said the autumn sowings were in a
very good condition and wheat was planted to 970,000 hectares.

Jozsef Vancsura, Chairman of Hungarian Grain Growers'
Association, says wheat plantings have weathered the winter well
as the soil has been fully saturated with moisture. There is no
crop damage and growth is healthy thanks to the warm weather.

There is no estimate for the wheat harvest but the crop
looked promising, he said.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Ukraine, Polina Devitt in
Russia, Gergely Szakacs in Hungary, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Bulgary
and Radu Marinas in Romania, editing by David Evans)

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