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Argentina exchange says rain needed soon to avert soy planting cuts

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Argentina farmers could reduce the area they plant with soy if more rain does not bring relief to drought-plagued farmlands soon, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said Thursday as it forecast moderate showers in parts of the country's farm belt.

A prolonged drought has forced farmers to delay planting soy, which is only 12% complete, versus 29% at the same date last year. The current crop's total planted area is projected at 16.7 million hectares (41.3 million acres), the exchange said.

Argentina is the world's top soy oil and meal exporter.

In a weekly climate report, the Buenos Aires grains exchange forecast moderate rains of 1 to 7.5 cm (0.4 to 3 inches) in the western and northern parts of the most important farmlands, while the southern region would receive less than a centimeter.

The dry conditions forced the exchange last week to cut its estimates for the country's current wheat harvest to 12.4 million tonnes, down from an initial 20.5 million tonnes seen at the campaign's onset, before the drought's toll was evident.

As of Wednesday, the exchange reported that farmers had harvested 10% of the 2022/23 wheat crop.

Corn producers, meanwhile, have planted 23.6% of the 7.3 million hectares that the exchange estimates for the 2022/23 season. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by David Gregorio)

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