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Russia starts 2019 grain harvesting amid hot weather

By Olga Popova and Polina Devitt

MOSCOW, June 11 (Reuters) - Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, has started the 2019 grain harvesting campaign in a southern region of the country amid hot weather, a state weather forecaster Hydrometcentre said on Tuesday.

Harvesting has started in part of Russia's southern Stavropol region, one of the main producers of wheat for export. The region is currently harvesting winter grains, a representative at Hydrometcentre told Reuters.

If the weather remains dry, widespread harvesting will start in other southern regions soon, Olga Beryoza, the head of agriculture forecasts at Hydrometcentre said. "We expect a good crop (of winter grains)," she added.

The local office of the agriculture ministry said on its website that active harvesting in the Stavropol region would start by June 20.

Hydrometcentre also said Russia's spring grain sowings remain in good condition in general despite reduced moisture level in the soil after hot weather in parts of the country.

SovEcon, one of the leading agriculture consultancies in Moscow, said earlier on Tuesday it had cut its forecast for Russia's 2019 wheat crop by 400,000 tonnes to 82.2 million tonnes due to a lack of moisture in some regions.

Russia's new wheat crop usually starts hitting export markets such as North Africa and the Middle East in July. Black Sea prices for the new Russian wheat crop with 12.5% protein content and for July delivery were at $195 per tonne on a free on board (FOB) basis at the end of last week.

However, a purchase tender, which a state grain buyer in Egypt is conducting on Tuesday for shipment on July 11-21, may provide updated price guidance for Russia's 2019 wheat crop, SovEcon said. Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer and the largest buyer of Russian wheat.

The lowest offer at this Egyptian tender for wheat was $196.90 per tonne for 60,000 tonnes of Russian wheat, traders said on Tuesday. (Reporting by Olga Popova and Polina Devitt; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by David Evans)

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