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UPDATE 2-Dry weather to cut Ukraine 2020 winter grain area - forecaster
(Adds situation with winter grain sowing in Russia)
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV/MOSCOW, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Drought across most Ukrainian regions is likely to reduce the area sown in the 2020 winter grain harvest, the head of Ukraine's state weather forecasting centre said on Tuesday.
Ukraine and Russia, its main rival on Black Sea grain exports, have been both looking for more rains this autumn. In Russia, though, warm and rainy weather has speeded up sowing in recent weeks and is expected to favour works in the next few weeks.
"The area will be smaller. The situation is far from optimal, but just about manageable," Mykola Kulbida told Reuters about Ukraine. "In recent days, the situation has improved slightly."
The Ukrainian agriculture ministry said farms had sown around 6.4 million hectares of winter grains as of Oct. 21 versus about 6.8 million at the same date in 2018.
The sown area included 5.5 million hectares of winter wheat and 777,000 hectares of winter barley. At the same date in 2018, farmers sowed 5.8 million hectares of winter wheat and 808,000 hectares of winter barley.
Winter wheat dominates Ukrainian and Russian total wheat harvest.
Russian farmers have sowed winter grains for next year's crop on 99.9% of the originally planned area, or 17.5 million hectares, compared with 17.3 million hectares at the same date a year ago, according to the agriculture ministry.
However, a leading state weather forecaster and SovEcon, one of the main agriculture consultancies in Moscow, expect the farmers to continue sowing in coming weeks as warm weather favours works.
Russia's southern regions, the main wheat producing and exporting area, can continue sowing in November, Anna Strashnaya, a senior researcher at the Hydrometcentre weather forecasting service, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The condition of sowings is good in the country in general with sufficient level of moisture in soil, she added.
SovEcon agriculture said that additional rains in the European part of Russia had improved the condition of sowings last week, adding that weather conditions for winter crops remain good. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Olga Popova; writing by Pavel Polityuk and Polina Devitt; editing by Susan Fenton and Ed Osmond)
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