Ukraine is likely to boost grain exports to 16 million tonnes in 2008/09 from 4 million in 2007/08, but logistical problems prevent higher sales this season, the head of the grain traders` union UZA said on Monday, according to Reuters.

"Technically, we can move out 18 million tonnes, including 2 million of rapeseed. We should have a crop allowing for 18 million tonnes of exports, but 18 million is the limit," UZA head Volodymyr Klymenko told Reuters in an interview.

He said the export volume could include 7 million tonnes of wheat, 4-5 million of barley, 2.5-3.0 million of maize and 1.0 million of other cereals this season.

Ukraine exported 895,084 tonnes of wheat, 1.037 million of barley and 1.6 million of maize in 2007/08. Exports included 3.3 million tonnes of wheat, 5.1 million of barley and 1.1 million of maize in 2006/07.

"Export volumes this season will depend not only on the volume of the crop but also on infrastructure capacities," Klymenko said.

He said seaports had an overall capacity to export 26 million tonnes of grain per season, while a lack of rolling stock limited transport volumes to 18 million tonnes of grain -- for both exports and the domestic market.

He said grain exports reached 1.7 million tonnes in July while the railway transported only 1.1 million. The remainder was trucked to ports.

"We are likely to maintain such a pace of exports until March."

The grain crop is likely to rise to 43 million tonnes from 29.3 million and Klymenko said wheat output could reach 23 million against about 14 million in 2007.

But he said milling wheat was unlikely to rise sharply and could be limited to 8 million tonnes this year.

"We are going to harvest 23 million tonnes of wheat and the food wheat could account for 8 million. Our local needs are about 6 million tonnes," Klymenko said.

He added that food wheat could total about 35 percent of the crop because of wet weather and pests. A large grain producer last week said feed wheat was likely to dominate the 2008 wheat harvest and could account for up to 80 percent of output.

Agriculture ministry officials put the share of milling wheat at 40 percent while the leading UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy forecast 50 percent.

Reuters, Guardian