Argentina exchange trims wheat harvest outlook as dry weather hits planting


By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, June 9 (Reuters) - Argentina's 2022/23 wheat crop will likely come in at 18.5 million tonnes, down from 19 million tonnes previously estimated, the Rosario grains exchange said early on Thursday, citing reduced planting by farmers due to dry weather.

The exchange cut its forecast for the planting area of the crop to 6.2 million hectares, the lowest in 12 years. That was down from a 6.35 million-hectare estimate previously. Planting of the crop is ongoing.

Argentina is a key exporter of wheat, a role which has grown due to tight global supply linked to the war between Russia and Ukraine, both major producers. Argentina produced a record 23 million tonnes of wheat last season, the exchange says.

The Rosario exchange added, however, that dry weather linked to the La Nina climate phenomenon, which is hitting Argentina for the third year in a row, was putting the brakes on farmers planting wheat in key farming regions.

"This crop cycle is starting with the worst edaphic (soil) moisture conditions," the exchange said in its monthly crop report, adding some 80% of the key Pampas region was in dry to very dry conditions.

Farmers have planted 17% of the estimated area for wheat, some 13 percentage points behind the same stage last season, the exchange said. Rains will be key to help complete planting by early July, but weather forecasts are not encouraging.

"The short-term forecasts indicate the entry of another front of cold and dry air that will cause a new drop in temperatures and the development of frosts, removing the possibility of rains over the Pampas region," the exchange said.

The exchange said that the 2021/22 soybean harvest had ended with some 42.2 million tonnes, above the 41.2 million that it had previously estimated, due to yields higher than expected. Argentina is the world's top exporter of processed soy.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Alexandra Hudson)

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