* Drought to hit Russia's grain crop in Siberia and Urals in
* Hot weather to hit maize crop in Ukraine in August
* Rains to restore yields in part of Kazakhstan in August
(Changes dateline and lead to focus on Black Sea region, adds
By Polina Devitt
MOSCOW, Aug 1 Hot and dry weather will continue
to dominate the Black Sea regions in August, increasing pressure
on weak grains crop prospects in Russia and Ukraine, while rains
in Kazakhstan are expected to aid its crop, forecasters said on
Weather in the Black Sea producing countries, which normally
supply a quarter of world wheat export volumes, has already hurt
grain crops in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan this year and has
lent support to global wheat prices, which soared this summer.
Wheat prices have jumped about 50 percent since
mid-June amid a severe drought in the U.S. Midwest, dry
conditions in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, excessively wet
weather in Europe and a below average start to the Indian
The USDA is expected to cut wheat crop estimates for Black
Sea exporters as bad weather takes a toll, while it continues a
trend of lowering figures for U.S. corn and soy production,
Barclays bank said on Tuesday.
Temperatures will be higher than usual in Russia during
August, putting pressure on crops, Russia's state forecaster
said on Tuesday.
Most of the wheat has been harvested in the key southern
exporting regions but spring wheat is still maturing to the
north, and the outlook for corn is under threat from renewed hot
weather in the breadbasket regions just north of the Black Sea
All key grain regions including Russia's South, Urals,
Siberia and Volga, will see temperatures above normal levels, a
map published by the State Hydrometeorology Agency showed.
A shortage of rains is likely in Russia's southern, Volga
regions and in the Urals, while Siberia and a part of Kazakhstan
will see an average level of precipitation.
Russia, hit by severe drought first in the southern
breadbasket regions and then in Siberia and Urals, could see a
grains harvest of 75-80 million tonnes this year, down from last
year's 94 million tonnes, top government officials said on
Its 2012/13 exportable surplus of wheat is seen in a range
of 11 million tonnes to 15 million tonnes depending on the final
2012 crop, a government source told Reuters on Wednesday.
Uncertainty over whether Russia will impose export
constraints, as it did after a disastrous drought in 2010, have
been another factor supporting grain prices in recent sessions.
HOT WEATHER IN UKRAINE
Ukraine, which faced a record drought during the 2011 winter
grain sowing, is likely to face searing temperatures of up to 42
degrees Celsius (107.6 Fahrenheit) in parts of the country in
early August, which will hit its maize production, a state
weather forecaster said on Wednesday.
"At the very best, the maize harvest (this year) will be 20
million tonnes," said Tetyana Adamenko, head of the state
weather forecasting centre's agriculture department, indicating
a revision downwards from the centre's previous 21 million tonne
Adamenko told Reuters that virtually the whole country would
see increasingly high temperatures up to Aug. 11, though the
situation was particularly critical in southern maize-growing
areas where temperatures of up to 42 degrees were expected by
"There is a lot of maize in these regions. The effect will be
that the plants will prematurely dry out and the grain will not
develop properly. Simply put - it will lead to a lower harvest,"
Agricultural Minister Mykiola Prysyazhnyuk said on Tuesday
that the ministry stood by its overall grain harvest forecast
for the year of 45 million tonnes, which also includes wheat,
barley and other crops.
But Adamenko said: "Analysts this year are agreed that the
overall harvest could be around 43 million tonnes. I also
believe that it will be about 43 million tonnes".
RAINS IN KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan, the Black Sea region's top producer of hard
wheat, it expected to restore a part of yields thanks to rainy
weather in August.
"The agriculture ministry has published their forecast -
12.8 million tonnes (of grain) by clean weight, but it is
raining heavily across all of northern Kazakhstan now," Evgeniy
Gan, president of League of Kazakhstani grain processors, told
Reuters on Wednesday.
"And there are competent views that these rains will be very
favorable for the areas that were last to be sown. Of course,
those areas sown at the start or in the middle of the sowing
campaign can hardly be rehabilitated now. But as for those sown
later, we can expect their recovery," he added.
He hopes that the forecast for the crop can be raised.
"It is clear that we won't get a crop anywhere closer to
last year's, but the general picture may somewhat improve," Gan
A Kazakh agriculture ministry official, who requested not to
be named, told Reuters that the country is not revising its
current forecast of 12.8 million tonnes of grain as it expects
more rains than average in the main northern grain belt and just
about average in the south in August.
"This is very important for ripening ears of grain. This
will somewhat rectify the situation - if not only
psychologically, because this July heat has driven all of us
into despair. Our next task now is to reap the harvest without
losses," the official said.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow, Natalya Zinets in Kiev,
Dmitry Solovyov in Almaty and Raushan Nurshayeva in Astana;
editing by Keiron Henderson)