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Ukraine wheat export boom lifts Kernel volumes to record top

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Ukrainian agribusiness Kernel, has successfully boosted its export capacity, announcing record grain sales, as well as total throughput, at its Black Sea shipment facility.

Kernel's increased grain handling ability may be more important than previously thought, given a series of upgrades for Ukraine's trouble 2016 wheat crop.

Ukrainian grain exports have been heavy this year, thanks to the bumper 2015 harvest, as well as the weakness of the currency, and the reinstatement of a tax-refund on grain exports.

Rising capacity

Kernel reported a record 1.415m tonnes of grain exports in the three months to March 31, an increase of 6% year on year, citing "capacity improvements" at its Ukrainian grain shipment facility.

Kernel managed to grow its export terminal utilisation by 20% year on year, to 1.472m tonnes, thanks to a "debottlenecking project" at its facility.

The facility reached record-high monthly utilisations last month.

Heavy exports

Exports of the heavy 2015 crop have been very strong, thanks to the weak currency and strong demand from South East Asia.

Ukrainian wheat exports are up 34% so far this season, at 12.9m tonnes, UkrAgroconsult said.

Thailand, the European Union, and Egypt have been the main exporters.

Poor start to season

The increase in export capacity comes as analysts increase ideas for Ukrainian wheat exports.

Ukraine suffered a very poor start to the winter wheat growing season, after a dry autumn last year.

The drop in acreage, and damage to the developing crop, are expected to sharply reduce production from last year's bumper 26.5m tonne harvest.

Prospects improve

But prospects for the new crop are starting to improve, after favourable weather, and some strong sowings of spring wheat, making up some of the lost acres.

French consultancy Agritel this week lifted its forecast for Ukrainian wheat exports to 19.3m tonnes, from a 17.2m tonnes estimate made in December.

Agritel noted mild winter weather, which has allowed more winter wheat to survive than initially expected.

Analyst UkrAgroconsult this month lifted its forecast for Ukraine's 2016 wheat crop to 18.5m tonnes, up from an earlier estimate of 17.7m tonnes.

Forecaster sounds cautious note

Still, there was a more downbeat note from Ukraine's state weather forecaster this month.

The forecaster warned that the harvest could by below 17m tonnes, due to the unfavourable autumn sowing weather.

Of the 6m hectares of winter wheat sown, only about 5m hectares is likely to be harvested, the forecaster said.


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