MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia’s harvesting of the 2015 cereal crops is virtually completed and aggregate output is estimated at 100.9 million tonnes, slightly below the 2014 bumper production but almost 22% above the five-year average, according to a Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations report issued on Sept. 29. Wheat output remained unchanged from the 2014 bumper level, with an increase in harvested area offsetting slightly lower yields achieved this year. For barley, however, with virtually no change in area, lower yields resulted in a significant 15% reduction in output. By contrast, maize production increased by 15% to 13 million tonnes as a result of increased plantings and better yields the FAO reported.

Regarding the winter cereals for harvest in 2016, planting conditions are reported to be generally satisfactory except in some southern parts where dry weather prevails, raising concerns that planted area may be limited and soil conditions will not favor emergence the FAO reported. However, as the normal sowing period continues up until the end of October, there is still time for conditions to improve should rainfall arrive. The government’s winter grain planting target is set at 18 million hectares, 1 million hectares up from the previous year.

Total cereal exports in the current 2015-16 marketing year (July/June) are forecast at 30.2 million tonnes, marginally lower than last year’s record level but 45% above the average of the past five years the FAO reported. Wheat represents about 74% of exports and the remainder is barley, maize and rye. The FAO noted that the bulk of the Russian Federation’s exports are destined towards Egypt and Turkey.

Export prices of milling wheat continued their decreasing trend since the beginning of the year under downward pressure from sharp depreciation of the local currency coupled with good supplies from the recently-concluded bumper wheat production. In September, export prices of milling wheat were almost one-third below their year-earlier levels. However, while the devaluation of the Ruble has been favorable for encouraging export sales, it has put the domestic market under significant upward pressure with wheat flour quotations in September remaining well above their year-earlier values the FAO reported.