EU crop monitor sees Ukraine maize crop down 24% on year

PARIS, Sept 12 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s grain maize (corn) harvest is expected to fall 24% below last year and 5% below the five-year average to 32.0 million tonnes, the European Union’s crop monitoring unit MARS said on Monday in updated estimates for the war-torn country.

For sunflower, of which Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters, the harvest is expected to drop 15% from a year ago to 13.9 million tonnes, 2% below the five-year average.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has seen a decrease in the area under grain maize and sunflowers. Consequently, our production forecasts for both crops is below the 5-year average, despite fair yield outlooks,” it said in a report.

Some 4% of the grain maize, 10% of the sunflowers, and 7% of soybean production is in areas currently subject to hostilities, MARS said.

For winter crops, for which the harvest is over, the share is at 22% of total soft wheat production, 20% for barley and 13% for rapeseed.

Analysts have been wrestling with how much grain Ukraine, usually one of the world’s biggest suppliers, will be able to harvest and export this year as war with Russia continues.

MARS’ estimates are based its own yield estimates and on area data from the Ukrainian farm ministry, apart from those in the war zones of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, which are based on remote sensing, it said.

To access the full MARS report: here (Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide Editing by Bernadette Baum)