* Wheat crop down 26.2 percent at 39.5 mln tonnes-Agmin
* Stocks at farms, processors down one third in south
* Stocks down 9-12 pct in central, northwest European Russia
* Focus on Russia after Ukraine bans exports
* Putin said export restrictions not under consideration
By Melissa Akin
MOSCOW, Oct 19 Russia's wheat crop is down more
than a quarter from last year as the harvest nears completion,
with the country's main grain stocks far below 2011 levels but
inventories near big population centres less depleted,
government data showed on Friday.
After traders reported Ukraine would ban grain exports from
Nov. 15 to combat a shortfall resulting from drought across
Black Sea growing regions, eyes are on Russia to see whether it
can cover domestic needs and let exports flow.
President Vladimir Putin, who approved a decision to ban
grain exports during a drought in 2010, has said export
restrictions are not under consideration.
Russia is due to start grain market interventions next week
to stem rising domestic prices and has doubled the planned
volume of sales from state stocks to 1 million tonnes to combat
regional shortfalls and potential food-price inflation.
Grain stocks at Russia's large farms and processors
stood at 35.8 million tonnes on Oct. 1, the state statistics
office said, down 26.2 percent from the previous year after
drought savaged the crop.
The stocks were down nearly one third in the key exporting
regions of Russia's south, at 6.83 million tonnes, and down 9 to
12 percent in central European Russia and the northwest, where
the country's biggest population centres are located.
Russia exported a record 28 million tonnes last year thanks
in large part to high stocks in the south, which increased after
Russia banned exports in August 2010 in response to a
catastrophic drought. It maintained the ban until July 2011.
Russian officials say the 2012 drought was not as
devastating as that of 2010. However, overall cereal and legume
yields are being reported lower than in the 2010/11 crop year,
with only a few million hectares left to harvest.
With 97.6 percent of Russia's sown area harvested on Friday,
71.8 million tonnes of cereals and legumes had been threshed
from 38.1 million hectares, the Agriculture Ministry said.
Figures were by bunker weight, used to measure the crop in
the course of the harvest. It is normally 5-7 percent higher
than the clean weight obtained after the grain is cleaned and
dried, but the difference may be less in hot, dry years.
Yields were down to 1.88 tonnes per hectare, from 2.31
tonnes per hectare a year earlier. In 2010, yields were 1.89
tonnes per hectare.
Russia reaped 39.5 million tonnes of wheat by Oct. 19 with
the wheat harvest 99 percent complete, a 32 percent decline in
the harvest from the previous year.
Yields were down to 1.86 tonnes per hectare from 2.39 tonnes
in the previous season.