Russian drought set to hit grain output

RUSSIA’S severe drought may cut its grain output by 40 per cent this year, a leading research group said yesterday, as Russia’s weather service forecast short-lived rains in some areas which could help planting for next year.

Leading Russian agricultural analyst’s body SovEcon said it cut its 2010 grain crop forecast to 59.5-63.5m tonnes from a previous forecast of 70-75m tonnes, a day after Russia’s first grain export ban for 11 years came into effect.

Coming after last year’s bumper 97m tonne crop, Russia’s worst drought in over a century has destroyed crops over large areas, sparking wildfires which have shrouded Moscow in eye-stinging smog for days.

SovEcon has already revised down its forecast for Russia’s 2010 wheat crop by 4m tonnes to 43-44m.