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Ukraine crops largely unscathed after frost, says state forecaster

Recent frosts in the east, north and centre of Ukraine have not caused significant damage to grain and oilseed crops, a state weather forecaster said on Tuesday.

Ukraine experienced several waves of frost between May 1 and May 16, said Tetiana Adamenko, head of the forecaster’s agriculture department, adding that May frosts are a common occurrence.

“There is some damage to early seedlings of corn and sunflower, but it’s all very localised. As of today, we have no information that crops have died,” Adamenko said.

Ukrainian consultancy APK-Inform on Monday quoted agricultural scientists as saying that recent severe frosts across Ukraine’s northern and eastern regions could reduce this year’s grain and oilseed harvest.

Frosts have damaged wheat, barley, rapeseed and pea crops, the scientists said, adding that 20% to 30% of the yield could be lost.

Adamenko, however, says the frost was insignificant and could not have killed the plants.

“Wheat and other cereals are frost-tolerant crops and should be able to pass through minor frosts,” she said. “For the plant to die, the temperature must fall below 9 degrees Celsius, which we have not had.”

Adamenko said the situation in Ukraine was much better than in Russia, where frost damaged significant areas.

An emergency regime remains in place in a dozen Russian regions, with Russia’s agriculture ministry having estimated that 900,000 hectares needs to be replanted, equating to about 1% of the total area under crops.

Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said on Monday that its crop forecast was unchanged but could be reviewed in June. The ministry has forecast the 2024 combined oilseed and grain harvest at 74 million metric tons, down from about 82 million tons last year.

It said Ukrainian farmers had sown 5.1 million hectares of spring grain crops as of May 16. Together with 6.3 million hectares of sowed oilseeds, more than 11 million hectares have now been sown, equating to more than 90% of the planned area.

The area included 781,600 hectares of spring barley, 249,000 hectares of spring wheat and 3.57 million hectares of corn.
Source: Reuters Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by David Goodman)

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