MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia’s unfavorable dry weather conditions last autumn during planting of the winter cereal crops for harvest in July-August 2016, resulted in the irregular emergence of some crops, according to a Feb. 3 GIEWS Country Brief from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

However, precipitation in November somewhat improved moisture and crop conditions before dormancy and good snow in most regions reduced the risk of winterkill. As of the end of January, around 90% of the winter cereal area was officially reported in good or satisfactory condition. The total area planted to winter cereals is estimated at 16.3 million hectares, slightly below 16.8 million hectares of last year.

The latest estimate of 2015 total cereal production stands at 104.3 million tonnes, which is just 1% less than in 2014. Wheat output is estimated at 61.8 million tonnes, up 3.5% from an already high level of 2014. Maize production is estimated at 12.7 million tonnes, 12% up from 2014, following increased planting area and better yields. By contrast, barley harvest decreased by 14% to 17.5 million tonnes, mainly due to weather-induced lower yields.

Cereal exports in 2015-16 marketing season are forecast at around 31 million tonnes, marginally higher than the previous season. Of the total, wheat is expected to account for 23.5 million tonnes, up 7% from the previous season. According to latest available data, from July 1, 2015 to Jan. 27, 2016, cereal exports amounted to 21.9 million tonnes, 3.7% less than the corresponding period of the previous year. During the same period, shipments of wheat were 16.5 million tonnes. The introduction of a floating tax in July restrained the pace of wheat exports in the first months of the season. However, since Oct. 1, 2015, Russia revised the formula of the customs duties allowing traders to increase wheat shipments on foreign markets, the report said.

Domestic prices of milling wheat increased slightly in January, reflecting the devaluation of the ruble and increased trade activity. Prices of wheat and wheat flour, however, remained lower than in January last year, mainly pressured by the good 2015 output.

By contrast, export prices of milling wheat declined by 4% in January, as a result of ample supplies and strong export competition on global markets. At this level, prices are almost one-third below their year-earlier level.