Ukraine, as well as Russia, has enjoyed a strong start to grain exports to 2012-13, with shipments soaring 60% in the first two months of the season, according to official data.
The Black Sea country shipped 2.99m tonnes of grains in July and August, including 1.3m tonnes of wheat and 1.1m tonnes of corn.
The total, while short of the 4.6m tonnes that Russia has exported, is up 60% on last year's performance, according to the Ukraine agriculture ministry, which foresees the pace quickening even further over coming months as the country ramps up harvesting of corn expected to represent the bulk of shipments.
The agriculture ministry has pegged total 2012-13 exports potentially exceeding 20m tonnes, including 12.4m tonnes of corn, although some analysts have less generous estimates.
While Ukraine too has suffered a drought-hit harvest, as signalled in harvest results from farm operators such as Astarta and Trigon Agri, the country's shipments are being supported by ample carryover stocks left over from last year.
The country is "will be able to maintain "a privileged position among the major exporting countries this year", according to Agritel, which estimates carryover grain stocks at 10m tonnes, compared with a typical 5m-6m tonnes.
|Forecasts for Ukraine grain shipments 2012-13|
Agritel - barley, 2.25m tonnes; corn, 11.8m tonnes; wheat 4.70m tonnes
Ukraine farm ministry - barley, 3m tonnes; corn, 12.4m tonnes; wheat 4m tonnes
US Department of Agriculture - barley, 2.0m tonnes; corn, 12.5m tonnes; wheat 6.0m tonnes
First export tariffs, then higher winterkill rates in autumn-sown crops, persuaded Ukraine farmers to hold on to considerable grain supplies, rather than sell out.
This season, exports are, as in Russia, being supported by competitive pricing among exporters attempting to ship supplies rapidly and avoid the risk of trade curbs, which Ukraine has signalled it will introduce in response to any restrictions in neighbouring Russia.
At a tender by Egypt at the weekend, 55,000 tonnes of Ukraine wheat was sold, by Louis Dreyfus, at $321.88 a tonne, cheaper than all but one offer of Russian supplies.
Russia's farm ministry in fact on Friday eschewed grain restrictions, although the pace of its exports has raised ideas that, even without politically-imposed measures, supplies from its drought-depleted harvest will not last long.
"At this pace, Russia will only have volumes to export until the end of October," Agritel said.
Better than average
Separately on Monday, Ros Agro, which farms on more than 4,000 square kilometres of Russia, confirmed it had managed a relatively small in yields of 13% to 3.1 tonnes per hectare for winter wheat, with the barley yield gaining 15% to 3.1 tonnes per hectare.
The result - which took the group's total harvest of wheat, barley and peas to 515,500 tonnes, a gain of 5% - reflected the relatively good weather around its central Russian farms.
"The worst of the weather was in the South," a spokesman told Agrimoney.com.
"Central Russian weather was not as bad as there," unlike in 2010, when the region felt the full force of the country's drought.
Rus Agro's yields were some "5-10% better than average" for the central region because of the group's greater investment in technologies such as fertilizer and crop protection, he added.