MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Another large grain crop is expected in the Black Sea region this year as farmers in Russia and Ukraine are being greeted with good weather as planting season begins.

Moisture levels are said to be good in that region’s grain belt due to deep snow cover for much of the winter, according to a Reuters report.

Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said in a weekly government meeting last week that farmers in Russia plan to sow spring grain over 31 million hectares, down 0.4% from 2017. He noted that farmers had purchased 30% more fertilizer than a year ago due to lower prices for crop nutrients.

Russia harvested a record grain crop of nearly 135 million tonnes in 2017.

Dmitry Rylko told Reuters that winter grains in Russia and Ukraine are in a relatively healthy state, with more information from the Russian side expected by the end of April.

“The picture in Ukraine is very good and we do not expect any significant losses after the winter,” Tetvana Adamenko, head of the agriculture department at the Ukraine state weather center, told Reuters.

A recent USDA report forecasts Russian grain production at 128.2 million tonnes, about 7 million tonnes lower than last year’s record output.

Ukraine grain production fell from 66 million tonnes in 2016-17 to 62.3 million tonnes in 2017-18.