MOSCOW, June 11 (Reuters) - Frosts in Russia have affected between 15% and 30% of winter grains, varying by region, the head of Russia's grain union said on Tuesday - a much higher figure than suggested by the agriculture ministry.

Arkady Zlochevsky told reporters that when the ministry put the percentage of damaged areas at about 1%, it was evidently referring to all crops including grasses and fodder.

The Russian Ministry of Agriculture so far estimates crop losses from May frosts at about 1 million hectares, or 1.2% of the total sown area for the 2024 harvest, with another 700,000 hectares suffering damage. Most of the dead crops have already been reseeded, the ministry says.

However, Zlochevsky told a press conference that "damage to winter crops alone was from 15% to 20-25% and even 30% - (depending) on the region."

Winter grains are those planted in the autumn and harvested in the summer, as opposed to spring wheat that is planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn.

Harvesting of the new crop has already started in some regions.

Russia is the world's biggest wheat exporter and the extent of crop damage from the May frosts is being watched closely by international grain markets.

Moscow has said its grain exports will not be affected. Last week it declared an emergency in 10 regions to facilitate insurance claims by farmers.

The agriculture ministry is sticking to its 2024 grain harvest forecast of 132 million tons but says that could be adjusted if a drought persists in several regions.

Agricultural consultancies have already lowered their forecasts for the wheat component of the harvest - IKAR to 81.5 million metric tons and Sovecon to 80.5 million.

Russia says it plans to export 60 million tons of grain in the 2024/25 season beginning on July 1, down from an estimated 70 million tons - including 53 million tons of wheat - in the 2023/24 season to June 30. (Reporting by Olga Popova Writing by Mark Trevelyan Editing by David Goodman )