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Farmers reap dismal harvests

WITH the harvest almost completed, this year's yield is shaping up to be a major disappointment for farmers.

By July, farmers had harvested grain crops from 90 percent of the 628,000 hectares of the fields they sowed, the Slovak Farm and Food Chamber (SPPK) reported.

The average harvest was 4.02 tonnes per hectare of wheat and 3.32 tonnes per hectare of barley. Those figures were considerably less than the Slovak Statistics Office estimated in mid-June.

Barley is the biggest disappointment for farmers. The average harvest is even weaker than last year's poor yield of 3.48 tonnes per hectare, and only eight percent of the acreage that was sown has yet to be harvested.

Three-quarters of rye fields have been harvested, yielding a mediocre average harvest of 2.84 tonnes per hectare.

More than half of the country's oats crops still need to be harvested. The latest average harvest figures are in line with last year's.

Farmers still need to harvest the last five percent of their rapeseed crops, which is not expected to raise the current average harvest of 2.19 tonnes per hectare, the chamber predicts. But the volume of rapeseed produced this year is estimated at 333,000 tonnes, up 25.4 percent from last year.

The Association of Fodder Producers, Warehouse Operators and Trade Companies estimates that the grain harvest will total more than three million tons this year, which would be 7.6 percent more than a year ago. It estimates an annual grain consumption of 2.5 million tonnes, meaning Slovakia would have a surplus of 583,000 tonnes of grain in 2007.

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