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Argentina corn planting being held up by drought, exchange says

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Argentina's corn planting is well behind the pace of last year due to a prolonged drought, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said on Thursday, noting that 5.8% of the area expected for the cereal had been sown, 11% points behind a year before.

The South American nation is the world's No. 3 exporter of corn. The same exchange on Wednesday estimated the 2022/23 corn harvest at 50 million tonnes, down from 52 million tonnes in 2021/22, hit by a scarcity of rainfall in recent months.

"Under this scenario, rains are necessary in the coming weeks to ensure planting plans can be met, bearing in mind that the optimal period for planting would finish at the end of October," the Buenos Aires exchange said in the weekly report.

According to the entity's weather forecast, in the next seven days the country's main agricultural regions will only receive only about 10 millimeters (3/8 of an inch) of rain.

However, Eduardo Sierra, a farming weather specialist at the exchange, said a day earlier that October should bring some 50-100 millimeters of rain, which will be a boost for the planting of corn at the start of the southern Spring.

That rainfall would also help Argentina's 2022/23 wheat, whose plots are currently in yield development stages and also need water. The exchange forecasts 2022/23 wheat production of 17.5 million tonnes, down from 22.4 million tonnes in 2021/22.

The exchange said that over the last week the percentage of wheat lots in fair to poor condition rose 3 percentage points to 45%, while lots in excellent to good condition are now only 14%. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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