Ukraine spring grain sowing 20% complete - ministry

KYIV, April 17 (Reuters) - All Ukrainian regions have started this year's spring grain sowing campaign, seeding a total of 1.5 million hectares of wheat, barley, peas and oats as of April 15, or 20% of the expected area, economy ministry data showed on Saturday.

The campaign started a few weeks late due to lingering cold weather in most of the country.

The overall grain area is likely to total 15.5 million hectares this year, including 7.6 million hectares of spring grains, the ministry has said.

Farms have sown 1.06 million hectares of barley, 177,200 hectares of peas, 124,160 hectares of wheat and 134,640 hectares of oats as of April 15.

The spring sowing area is expected to include 1.388 million hectares of barley, 176,600 hectares of wheat, 5.327 million hectares of corn, 194,050 hectares of oats and 235,400 hectares of peas.

State weather forecasters said last month around 98% of Ukrainian winter wheat crops and 100% of winter barley were in good condition.

The favourable weather could help farmers increase the grain crop to 75 million tonnes this year from 65 million in 2020.

The ministry said farms had also started the 2021 sunflower sowing campaign, with the first seeding of 390,050 hectares. They have also sown 73,970 hectares of sugar beet so far.

The ministry has said the area under sunflowers could total 6.4 million hectares, soy beans 1.4 million hectares, and sugar beet 226,900 hectares in 2021. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk. Editing by Mark Potter)

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