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Ukraine 2023 winter wheat sowing 16% complete - ministry

KYIV, Sept 27 (Reuters) - Farms in regions controlled by the Ukrainian government have sown 622,000 hectares to winter wheat for the 2023 harvest, or 16% of the expected area, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.

The ministry did not provide a forecast, although Agriculture Minister Mykola Solsky told Reuters last month that the area could fall to 3.8 million hectares from 4.6 million a year earlier because of Russia's invasion.

Kyiv-based Barva Invest consultancy said last week the area sown to winter wheat could total around 3.4 million hectares, 10.5% less than the agriculture minister expected.

Ukraine sowed more than 6 million hectares of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest, but a large area has been occupied by Russian forces since the invasion in February.

The ministry said in a statement that farmers had also sown 65,000 hectares of winter barley, or 10% of the expected area, and 27,000 hectares of rye, or 31% of the forecast.

It also said farmers had completed winter rape sowing, seeding a total of 961,000 hectares.

Ukraine harvested 19 million tonnes of wheat this year, compared with around 32.2 million tonnes in 2021. The sharp decline was the result of hostilities in many regions and the occupation of large areas by Russian forces.

First Deputy Agriculture Minister Taras Vysotskyi said last week Ukraine's 2023 wheat harvest may decrease to 16-18 million tonnes from 19 million tonnes in 2022 because of an expected fall in the winter wheat sowing area. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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