MOSCOW, RUSSIA — The SovEcon agriculture consultancy told Reuters on Dec. 28 that it had lowered its estimate for Russia’s 2020-21 wheat exports from 40.8 million tonnes to 36.3 million due to an upcoming wheat export tax.

Russia is attempting to stabilize food prices with a grain export quota and wheat export tax that will be in effect from Feb. 15 to June 30.

SovEcon told Reuters that some farmers are expected to delay their wheat sales until July 2021 when the export tax is no longer in place.

“A significant number of farmers may decide to postpone sales until the 2021-22 season starts, hoping for a rapid strengthening of prices after the tax is lifted,” SovEcon said.

Russia, one of the world’s leading wheat exporters in recent years, is also facing the prospect of a smaller-than-average crop due to weather concerns.

Conditions have been dry since most of the crop was planted this fall. SovEcon told Reuters that the share of grain sowings in poor condition was at a seven-year high as of early December.

In the 2019-20 marketing season, Russia was the world’s second-ranked wheat exporter, shipping 34.4 million tonnes to foreign markets. The total would have been higher, but Russia announced on April 26 that it was halting exports for the remainder of the marketing year, which ended June 30, to protect domestic supply and contain prices amid upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic and a plunge in oil prices.