As you know, Russia remains the most bearish factor in the winter wheat complex. So, just hours before the February WASDE report, what’s another boost to Russian wheat production?
This time it’s not a rise in arable land or boost in infrastructure spending that’s making Russia’s wheat production so competitive. It’s snow – and a lot of it. To think that Russia – yes Russia – is having a record-breaking snow storm in 2017 is crazy. It’s hard to find a map where most of the nation’s land isn’t covered in white to begin with.
About a foot of snow is covering the wheat fields will be a boost to yields, according to EkoNiva-APK Holding, which manages farms across the country. As we noted the other day, Russia is set to produce between 73 million MT and 82 million MT of wheat, according to IKAR. That snow should provide much-needed reserve moisture and help push production toward the higher range of those trade estimates.
The 2017 production figure came in at 85.8 MMT. IKAR sees that 82.0 MMT for 2018 as a distinct possibility. Let’s see what the USDA has to say in an hour.
Some Russians Are Loving This Blizzard of the Century
A record-breaking snow storm will benefit wheat crops across central Russia, reinforcing the outlook for another big harvest.
“This is a free boost for yields, an additional advantage,” said Roman Ratnikov, head agronomist at EkoNiva-APK Holding, which runs farms in central Russia. “This snowfall has increased the snow cover and will let us have much bigger prospects for soil moisture reserves in spring.”
Expectations for Russian wheat are already high. The weather has been warm and wet in autumn and a moderate winter also helped growing conditions. The country may reap between 73 million and 82 million metric tons of wheat next season, according to a pre-snowstorm estimate from the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies, known as IKAR. While that total is down slightly from the last harvest, it would still be a major crop.
“Everything looks great now,” said Evgeny Zaytsev, an analyst at the Moscow-based consulting firm. “The thick snow blanket also provides good protection from below-zero temperatures.”
In the past two weeks, central Russia has received twice the normal amount of precipitation, according to World Ag Weather.
One risk is that fluctuating temperatures may have caused snow to melt, which could then freeze into ice and suffocate plants.
“This is causing concern,” said Sergey Skipa, who farms 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) in the central Russian region of Voronezh. “I’m preparing equipment so, if need be, I could go across the fields and crush the coating.”