Most of Ukraine's winter grain crops – winter wheat and barley – are in good condition and could produce a good harvest, Ukraine's academy of agricultural science was quoted as saying on Monday.
"The analysis of the viability of winter wheat ... showed that the vast majority of plants - 92% to 97%, depending on the predecessor and sowing date - were in relatively good condition," the APK-Inform consultancy quoted a report by the academy as saying, despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine is a traditional grower of winter wheat which accounts for around 95% of the country's overall wheat output, and key for both local consumption and exports.
"There are good reasons to make preliminary forecasts for the formation of yields that will be close to the average long-term average," the report said.
The scientists say the reserves of productive moisture in the soil under winter crops remained "quite significant and did not cause concern".
The winter wheat area sown for the 2023 harvest decreased to around 4.1 million hectares from more than six million sown a year earlier because of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February last year.
Of the winter wheat sown last year, only 4.9 million hectares were harvested in Ukrainian-controlled territory, as Russian forces occupied some areas.
Ukraine's wheat harvest declined to 20.2 million tonnes in 2022 from 32.2 million tonnes in 2021.
Overall grain output fell to around 54 million tonnes from a record 86 million in 2021.
A top agriculture ministry official told Reuters on Thursday (2 March) that the 2023 wheat crop could total 16 to 18 million tonnes but Ukraine saw no need to limit wheat exports for the upcoming 2023/24 July-June season.
Grain Exports Fall
According to latest data from the agriculture ministry, Ukraine's grain exports are down 26.6% at 32.9 million tonnes in the 2022/23 season so far, hit by a smaller harvest and logistical difficulties caused by Russia's invasion.
The volume so far in the July to June season included about 11.4 million tonnes of wheat, 19.1 million tonnes of corn and about 2.1 million tonnes of barley.
Exports at the same stage of the previous season were almost 44.8 million tonnes.
The ministry said grain exports so far in March had reached 641,000 tonnes as of 6 March, down from 1.33 million tonnes in the same period last year.
After an almost six-month blockade caused by Russia's invasion, three Ukrainian Black Sea ports were unblocked at the end of July under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv that was brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye.
Ukraine has appealed to the United Nations and Türkiye to press Russia to stop hindering Ukrainian grain shipments that supply millions of people, and not to use food as a weapon.