KIEV (Reuters) - The maize harvest in the Black Sea region could fall by about 9 percent to 47 million tonnes this year due to hot, dry weather during key pollination and seed-filling periods, analysts and officials said.
The smaller maize (corn) crop will lead to a decline in the overall export capacity of the region to 26 million tonnes this season compared with 29.6 million in 2014/15, analyst UkrAgroConsult said in a report.
Black Sea producer Ukraine, the world's fourth largest maize producer in 2014, according to USDA estimates, may reduce its harvest to 23 million tonnes from 25.9 million in 2014.
"Hot and dry weather this summer had a negative impact on productivity in some regions of the country. Consequently, farmers in Ukraine will obtain 2.9 million tonnes less corn than last year," UkrAgroConsult said.
The consultancy said a decline in maize prices and lower profitability compared to wheat had caused a decrease in the area sown with maize this year.
But the area may rise next year because farmers could expand sowing to compensate for a smaller winter grains acreage.
The size of Ukrainian land sown with winter grain for the 2016 harvest could fall by up to 30 percent due to excessive dry weather across the country, a senior weather forecaster said.
Traders, however, said sunflower could be a more attractive replacement as there is a high risk of summer drought in most Ukrainian regions next year.
RUSSIA, ROMANIA, BULGARIA
Hot weather also affected production in Romania and Bulgaria, and only Russia showed a higher harvest.
Unofficial data from a grain trading association showed Romanian farmers have so far harvested maize from about 60 percent of the overall acreage of 2.7 million hectares leading to rough estimates of a 9 million tonne crop.
Romania reaped 11.4 million tonnes of maize in 2014.
Bulgaria has harvested about 50 percent of the sown area and collected 1.1 million tonnes of maize by early October, but the average yields were about 30 percent less than a year ago, the Bulgarian agriculture ministry said.
"The weather has not been very favorable this year and we expect a harvest of about 2.5 million tonnes", said Angel Vukadinov, member of the controlling council of the National Grain Producer Association.
Bulgaria harvested 3.14 million tonnes of maize in 2014.
Russia is expected to harvest a record maize crop of 12 million tonnes this year thanks to larger sown area and higher yields in the country's central regions, said Andrey Sizov, the head of SovEcon agriculture consultancy.
It harvested 11.3 million tonnes in 2014.
Russian farmers have already harvested 5.9 million tonnes of corn from 43 percent of the area. It is slightly up from 5.8 million tonnes at the same date a year ago thanks to yields of 5.04 tonnes per hectare, up from 4.61 tonnes.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Ukraine, Polina Devitt in Russia, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Bulgaria and Radu Marinas in Romania, editing by David Evans)