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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rain Stalls Grain Crop Harvesting

Russia's 1994 grain harvest will be between 90 and 100 million tons, depending on the weather, the deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, Alexander Zaveryukha, told a news conference Monday.

Harvesting is 10 days behind 1993 rates, partly because of bad weather, he said. But the weather is improving and harvesting is accelerating.

Zaveryukha said the total amount of grain out in the fields was well over 100 million tons.

"Our forecast is 95 million tons. (But) it could be 90 million and could be 100 million," he said. "No one can give an exact figure. It all depends on the weather."

Russian officials previously put this year's harvest at 90 to 95 million tons, down from 99 million in 1993. But Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said Saturday it could top 100 million tons.

Chernomyrdin, responding to farmers' frequent complaints that ministers are ignoring the crippling financial and technical problems besetting the country's agriculture, said the government was doing all it could. The state had already spent 1.3 trillion rubles ($604 million) to help with the harvest, he said.

Zaveryukha said by Monday that 18 million hectares, or 40 percent of the sown area, had been threshed, compared with 26 million at the same time last year.

It would take about 10 days to reach the level of last year. Southern Russia had been hit by severe drought, while Siberia suffered from heavy rains. But climatic conditions were improving and harvesting was speeding up, he added.

Itar-Tass reported over the weekend, however, that grain, potato and vegetable crops in the Russian Far East are being harvested at a disastrously slow pace because of a shortage of fuel and spare parts.

Only 80,000 out of 145,000 hectares of grain will have been harvested by the end of August, by which time all grain has usually been gathered in, the agency quoted agricultural officials in Vladivostok as saying.

"The potato harvest has not yet started. Vegetables are dying in the fields. Beans are withering away," the news agency said.