Russia's wheat export forecasts raised on strong demand

* IKAR, SovEcon lift July wheat export forecasts

* Russia exported over 0.7 mln T of wheat July 1-20 (Adds SovEcon’s upgraded forecast, context)

MOSCOW, July 22 (Reuters) – Russia’s top agricultural forecasters increased their wheat export expectations for July on Monday, citing greater demand from buyers in North Africa and the Middle East than previously expected.

The early start of the harvesting campaign has also supported the high pace of exports from Russia, one of the world’s major wheat exporters which aims to boost its crops after last year’s drought.

“The early start of the harvesting campaign in June made new-crop exports possible already in early July and put pressure on domestic prices,” Andrei Sizov, the chief executive of SovEcon agricultural analysts, Andrei Sizov, said.

SovEcon has raised its July wheat exports forecasts to up to 1 million tonnes, he said. Previously its estimate was between 0.7 million and 0.8 million tonnes.

Russia’s Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) has increased its July wheat export forecast to 1.2 million tonnes from slightly more than 1 million, said its chief executive, Dmitry Rylko.

Russia’s prices for supplies of new-crop wheat with 12.5 percent protein content and on a free-on-board basis have declined $12 per tonne since mid-June to $252 per tonne in the Black Sea last week, according to IKAR.

Benchmark November milling wheat on the Paris futures market was at 194.50 euros ($260) a tonne by 1033 GMT.

Russia has already exported 1 million tonnes of grain, including more than 0.7 million tonnes of wheat this month as of July 20, Rylko said. He expected the July exports of all grains to amount to 1.6 million tonnes.

Trading has been active with traditional clients such as Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Iraq and with infrequent customers such as South Africa, according to IKAR.

Russia’s Agriculture ministry expects the 2013 wheat harvest to be not less than 50 million tonnes, of which 20 million could be exported. In July 2012, Russia exported 1.8 million tonnes of wheat thanks to large market stocks.

It has already harvested 24 million tonnes of wheat from 30.4 percent of the planted area as of July 19.

($1 = 0.7611 euros) (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Lidia Kelly and Jane Baird)

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