Farmers in Russia’s southern Rostov region, one of the largest grain producing and exporting areas of the country, are seeing high wheat yields as harvesting gets underway, growers and officials in the region said.

Sanctions-hit Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, is expected to produce a massive crop in 2022 with record amounts available to supply abroad in the July-June marketing season.

“The crop prospects are good,” Viktor Goncharov, first deputy governor of the region told Reuters, adding that wheat yields are so far 0.1-0.2 tonnes per hectare higher than a year ago. “Weather, readiness of equipment – everything is favourable.”

Russia’s exports are crucial for global wheat supply as Ukraine’s Black Sea ports have been blocked after the Kremlin sent thousands of troops into the country on February 24.

The Rostov region is expected to repeat last year’s record crop when it harvested 12.7 million tonnes of wheat, including 11.5 million tonnes of winter wheat, Goncharov told Reuters at one of the farms in the southwestern part of the region.

Western sanctions imposed on Russia for what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine have not affected the supply of harvesting equipment so far as farmers in the region mostly use locally-produced tractors and combines, he added.

Bessergenevskoye, a farm in the western part of region is so far getting the same yields as a year ago following a lack of rains in the area, its deputy head, Sergei Studinikin said.

Spare parts for imported equipment have become more expensive due to the sanctions but farmers managed to buy them before the start of harvesting and had 99 per cent of equipment ready when the work started, Alexei Kushnaryov, deputy head of Zernogradsky district in the southern part of the region, said.

“Farmers are used to surviving in any conditions, so ways [of solving the problem] have been found. As you can see today, the harvesting work is progressing well,” he said, adding that yields were higher than a year ago.