THE US continued to slash estimates for Ukraine’s grain exports as sea routes were curbed following Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s corn exports will drop by another 4.5 million tons to 23 million tons and wheat exports by 1 million tons, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) closely watched World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, or WASDE. Global wheat stockpiles were revised down to 278.4 million tons, less than expected by a Bloomberg survey.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is upending trade flows out of the critical Black Sea breadbasket region, prompting warnings of food shortages as crucial supplies of wheat, corn and cooking oils are at risk. Food prices are surging at the fastest clip ever and worsening world hunger, putting pressure on other big growing areas to produce big crops this year.

“There’s an increased possibility of the conflict getting out of hand again. Peace is not coming any time soon,” said Jack Scoville, analyst at Price Futures Group Inc. in Chicago.

Grain and oilseed futures have jumped to record or near record highs, and also caused a spike in prices of farm necessities like fertilizer and fuel. Meanwhile, weather woes and inflation in key producers like the US and Brazil are clouding the outlook for this year’s crop supplies.

While USDA raised its forecast for Brazil’s current corn crop more than expected, the real test will unfold over the next several weeks. April is a critical growing period for the grain and if adequate rains don’t arrive in time it could crimp yields.

Most-active corn futures in Chicago briefly plunged after the US report hit but quickly bounced back to settle 1.4% higher at $7.6075 a bushel. Benchmark wheat rose 3.2% to $10.5825 a bushel and soybeans jumped 2.6% to reach $16.89.

Prices had been up prior to the report’s release amid news that Russia bombed a major rail evacuation hub in Ukraine, killing dozens of people.

To see how significantly the war is upending crop flows from Ukraine, its corn stockpiles tell the story. The war has left the country saddled with huge amounts of grain that it’s largely unable to move. With its ports shut, Ukraine is working to ramp up exports via rail, but the flows remain well below normal seaborne trade.

The chaos in the Black Sea so far hasn’t led to a jump in US grain exports, though there were signs of fresh corn demand this week when China scooped up 1.1 million tons, the Asian nation’s biggest such buy in almost a year.

Besides the worsening war that’s affecting Black Sea exports, the report was bearish, according to Naomi Blohm, senior market adviser at Total Farm Marketing in Wisconsin, with no changes to US corn reserves, bigger wheat supplies and a smaller-than-expected cut in US soybeans stockpiles.

Shifts in the soybean markets are also underway. The report raised US exports while lowering shipments out of Brazil, as well as Ukraine and Russia.

South American soybean crops are down a combined 33 million tons below initial estimates from November, which marks a record loss for the region after a strong drought caused by La Nina weather patterns. With that cut in production, the smaller South American exports will drive more demand to the US for summer and early fall.

Bigger US exports will likely to shrink end-season US soybean stockpiles by 8.8%, the largest decline in the month of April since 2012. It’s an unusual move because supplies in America are typically well known at this time of year. — Bloomberg