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Ukraine's 2022 maize crop seen at 30.24 mln tonnes, down on year -Agritel

PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) - This year's maize, or corn, crop in Ukraine, one of the world's largest exporters of the grain, is expected to fall to 30.24 million tonnes, as a lower area will likely be harvested amid the ongoing war, French consultancy Agritel said on Wednesday.

The estimate would be down nearly 12 million tonnes from a record harvest in 2021, but only slightly below the five-year average, it said.

Although most of the maize is grown in central Ukraine, which has not been occupied by Russia, difficulties in accessing fields in several regions in the spring due to active fighting had led to a drop in the area set to be harvested, it said.

The total 2022/23 maize area in Ukraine was estimated at 4.28 million hectares, down from a record 5.5 million hectares in 2021/22, with losses between planted and harvested area estimated at 7.7%.

Agritel expects maize crop yields in the country to fall to an average 7.06 tonnes per hectare, down from 7.7 tonnes per hectare last season but still 4.4% above the five-year average due to favourable weather in most key producing regions.

However, it stressed that the war, a lack of storage and particularly high drying costs could prompt some farmers to postpone their corn harvest to the spring.

"If this is the case, the yield estimate could be revised downwards," it said.

Agritel, part of commodity pricing group Argus, said its estimates were based on discussions with local analysts, traders, agro-holdings, and farmers in Ukraine.

Its estimate compares with the European Union's crop monitoring unit MARS' forecast on Monday of an Ukrainian maize harvest this year of 32.0 million tonnes. (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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