The Soviet Union is facing the prospect of having to import large quantities of wheat, grain and rice from the West following this year's poor harvest, and that could mean dearer bread for western consumers.
The Soviet Union is facing the prospect of having to import large quantities of wheat, grain and rice from the West following this year's poor harvest, and that could mean dearer bread for western consumers. The overall Soviet yield is expected to be down as much as 25 percent on last year's record of 288-million tons.
SYNOPSIS: Crops in the Soviet Union are always vulnerable because of the extreme continental climate. Usually though that's offset by the sheer size of the country. ..bad weather in one region often brings reasonable growing conditions in other districts. But this year a long bleak winter gave way to severe spring flooding, followed by searing winds and three months of drought.
Officially the government is saying the harvest is well underway with nearly 50-million hectares (115-million acres) of crops already brought in. Unofficially, the Soviet press has been stressing the need for careful harvesting, not spilling or wasting anything.
If the Soviet Union has to import, the supplied will come mainly from the United States and Canada. Economists say that will force up domestic grain prices in those countries, and ultimately lead to dearer bread for western consumers.
The one bright spot in the harvest outlook is the possibility of bumper spring wheat crops from the virgin lands area of Khazakstan and Western siberia.