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Ukraine union revises up 2008 white sugar forecast

KIEV, May 20 (Reuters) - Ukraine's sugar union revised upward on Tuesday its 2008 white sugar output forecast to 1.7-1.74 million tonnes, from a previous figure of 1.5-1.6 million, due to expected higher yields.

"We have practically completed 2008 sugar beet sowing at about 400,00 hectares and hope to get yields of 40 tonnes per hectare and a harvest of 16 million tonnes," Ukrtsukor head Mykola Yarchuk told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference organised by the EBRD.

"This means we can produce 1.7-1.74 million tonnes of sugar.

Ukraine produced 1.86 million tonnes of white sugar in 2007.

In early 2008, the farm ministry had forecast the sugar beet sown area at 481,000 hectares against 635,000 in 2007. But farmers reduced the area to 402,000 hectares, a senior agriculture official said.

"The sowing is completed. We have 402,000 hectares or 84 percent of the forecast," Deputy Agriculture Minister Yaroslav Gadzalo told reporters.

Leading UkrAgroConsult agriculture consultancy this month reduced its 2008 sugar beet crop forecast by 14.4 percent to 11.3 million tonnes from the previous 13.2 million.

The consultancy said the main reason for the reduction was a cut in the beet sowing area to 410,000 hectares from 480,000 a month earlier.

It also reduced the area which would be harvested to 400,000 hectares in May from 470,000 in April.

Ukraine sowed 635,000 hectares to sugar beet and harvested 15.4 million tonnes in 2007.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Peter Blackburn)