Russian corn, sunflower crops hit after harvest delays

21 Dec 2022 | Yana Sukharska

Russian farmers continued their efforts in harvesting grains and oilseeds in the week up to December 20, after work has been delayed by unfavorable weather, a regular update from the country's agriculture ministry has shown Wednesday.

This year, some regions have lagged behind the fieldwork plan due to rainfall during late-running crop harvesting, while even today the weather still makes it difficult to catch up, as some regions are hit by rain, snow or ice.

Preliminary estimates of the oilseed crop in Russia have taken a downward course due to bad weather in most regions of the country.

Local experts say that farmers may lose a substantial amount of sunflower production, and rains will still affect the quality of crops left in the fields.

But despite this, the forecasts of the gross harvest of sunflowers remain above the level of last year and, most likely, will deliver a bigger harvest.

"I think we will collect less than originally planned. Everyone hoped for 16.5-17 million mt - there were higher estimates, but most likely it will be 16 million mt," vice president of the Russian Grain Union, Alexander Korbut, said.

As for the quality, in some regions, seed germination and high humidity are recorded, with seed germination leading to a loss of quality and a decrease in oil content, which leads to inevitable losses in crop volume.

Also, there are problems with drying – farmers offer to take sunflower seeds right from under the harvester in a bid to avoid additional costs, delay, and efforts, but this is a potentially risky operation for processors.

The sunflower harvest has advanced by another 2.5 percentage points with 86% of the plan now completed, amounting to 8.6 million ha and 15.5 million mt, while the average yield also stands at 9% above the previous year's figures at 1.79 mt/ha.

As for corn, the situation is much the same, with yields showing a strong increase from 5.5 mt/ha to 6 mt/ha, although the current pace means the harvest is 2.3 million mt behind the volume collected at the same point of 2021.  

That is down to weather delays, which have pushed the harvest out of its typical window and into a less supportive period, despite improved yields.

In the spring, the harvest is expected to continue, but product is expected to face a drop in quality as prevailing weather outlooks offer little hope of recovery.

The corn harvest progress has also increased by 3 percentage points through the past week to 80% of the plan completed on 2.27 million ha, with 13.7 million mt already in the bins.

However, a large amount of unharvested corn is likely to be exposed to snow as the winter period settles in.

Finally, the soybean harvest has been slower at the final stretch, with one percentage point of progress seen and field works completed on 95% of the plan – yielding 6.28 million mt from 3.3 million ha in the bins.


Russian winter cereal planting has stalled with 17.7 million hectares planted as of December 20, which is less by 3.8% than last year, when 18.4 million ha had been planted at the same time.

The government also plans to reduce the area under wheat, which equates to 88% of the total winter sowing program, and the forecast for the next year is likely to be reduced in a bid to maintain price balance and stabilize the domestic market, as well as to realize this year's record harvest.

Winter wheat crops go into the dormant phase in most of the country and are predominantly almost fully hardened.

In most of the territory of Russia, meteorological conditions for the wintering of winter crops will be generally satisfactory.