KYIV, May 18 - Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Ivan Kyrylenko announced on Thursday that May frosts had affected about 400,000 hectares of spring crops in the former Soviet republic.
'In line with preliminary data, May frosts damaged about 200,000 hectares and destroyed in full about 200,000 hectares,' Kyrylenko told a news conference.
He said the frosts had hit sugar beet, sunflower, spring grains and vegetable crops, but declined to forecast the harvest for this year.
A vast Arctic cyclone spread over Ukraine in early May, bringing biting sub-zero night temperatures to most of the country, but Kyrylenko said grains had not been affected seriously.
Last year frosts in May and a heatwave in June and July damaged more than 1.5 million hectares of crops, and officials said the fertile agricultural nation suffered losses worth $68 million.
Kyrylenko told reporters earlier this year that hard-up farms were extremely vulnerable to changes in the weather, and even minor frosts or drought could cut crops significantly.
Ukraine harvested a meagre 24.4 million tonnes of grain in 1999, the worst harvest since World War Two.
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