MOSCOW, RUSSIA – Russian farmers have been sowing winter wheat into dry soil this year, increasing risks for the 2020-21 crop, Reuters reported on Nov. 17.

One of the world’s largest grain exporters, Russia is estimated to have planted 19.1 million hectares of grain, up from 18.1 million hectares at the same time a year ago.

"Despite some improvement in recent weeks, plants are still in a bad shape overall," Sovecon agriculture consultancy told Reuters. "A lot will depend on how harsh this winter will be and how much precipitation we will see."

Conditions for wheat plantings are particularly poor in part of Volgograd, Stavropol and nearby regions, despite some improvement seen in recent weeks, analysts told Reuters.

The situation is also complicated by the lack of moisture in subsoil level in several key regions, which means higher risks for both winter and spring grains in 2021.

The share of sowings in bad condition, which Russian officials usually estimate and release in late November, is likely to be close to a record high, Dmitry Rylko, the head of the IKAR consultancy, told Reuters.

In 2019-20, Russia produced 73.6 million tonnes of wheat, exporting nearly half of that total. It ranked fourth in output behind China, the European Union (EU) and India and second in exports behind the EU.