USA media forecast the largest crop in 5 years in Russia. Let me explain why this is not so.

June,1. Russia

A few days ago, the US Internet media published an article which said that in summer and autumn of 2020, Russia is expected to have a record wheat crop. Why the US cares so much about wheat specifically is not clear to me since Russia grows lots of other agricultural crops too. For example, sunflower, corn, soy, peas, buckwheat, canola. And these Russian products also affect world prices.

Immediately after this article was published in US media, it was reprinted by the main Russian media without even checking all these facts. I have said many times that when there is politics, food industry only suffers.

My rubric in which I am posting this article is called “Russian Food Market. Analytics and insights”, so today there will be some insights from me. In my opinion, there are several factors on the Russian food market which will not allow the US forecast to come true. Although it is sad for me as a Russian, I am a professional in food industry, so I should talk about facts, but not emotions.

I will share with you some information about situation with Russian agro companies this spring, when the agro season in Russia begins.

Fruits, berries and sunflower.
In Russia, they begin to sow in the spring if they grow in open ground. This spring of 2020 was very cold in Russia. After the flowering of the first fruit trees began, there were frosty nights, so most of ovaries and flowers got damaged.

Frost nights were followed daytime low temperatures, which resulted in the death of many plants. Stone fruits and seed crops were affected most severely. These are apples, plums, pears, cherries, sweet cherries other berries and sunflowers.

For example, only in Krasnodar region, which is located near the Black Sea and considered to be one of the most fertile agricultural regions in Russia, about 50,000 hectares of crops were killed during the frosty months and 800,000 hectares of crops were partially affected.

According to Black Sea region agronomists, compared to the last year, the yield of stone fruits will decrease by 80% and the yield of seed crops – by 60%. And this is only in one of the most fertile agro regions of Russia.

Why is it important for foreign companies involved in growing apples, pears, cherries, sweet cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, etc.?

Firstly, this means that prices for these fruits and berries will rise in Russia in fall when the harvest starts. Secondly, since there will be fewer Russian products on the market, the share of foreign agrifood (fruits and berries) will increase. And of course, you should also pay attention to the sunflower. Partial damage to sunflower crops is likely to result in higher prices for sunflower oil.

Wheat and vegetables.
Now let us move on to wheat and vegetables. US media forecasts a large wheat crop in Russia, the largest in the last 5 years. But the US media probably do not know that according to Russian weather forecasters, this summer will be the hottest in the last 5 years in Russia. So, let me explain the consequences of this.

Firstly, when abnormal heat comes to Russia in summer, locusts come to Russia too. And each time it is a huge loss for wheat crops. 5 years ago, it was an extremely hot summer and locusts damaged a huge amount of all crops. Locusts are not a typical problem for Russian agricultural companies, therefore, measures to combat them are not as effective as they could be.

Secondly, it is important to know the abnormal heat this summer will occur during the period of growth of such vegetables as potatoes, beets, carrots, onions. They are the main vegetable agro crops that are grown in open ground in Russia.

The normal temperature in summer for Russia is +22-25 degrees Celsius (21,6 – 77 F). In this temperature, vegetables are used to grow in the open ground. Of course, when the temperature rises to +30-35 degrees Celsius (86-95 F), growth and development of these vegetables will stop. Thus, by fall, when vegetables are harvested in Russia, the yield will be less than usual simply because vegetables will not be able to fully develop during the ripening period.

Therefore, when you are interested in something related to food market, do not use information from sources in your country, but search for data on the ground. Information from experts in Russia will be more useful and accurate.

Yours faithfully
Alexander Sinyanskiy
Business Adviser on the Russian Food Market  

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