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336103

Argentina rains will speed up stalled soy planting, analysts say

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 14 (Reuters) - Rains in Argentina's farm belt over the weekend will allow farmers to speed up the delayed planting of soybeans, analysts at the country's two major grain exchanges said on Monday, a boost for the world's top soy oil and meal exporter.

Argentina's 2022/23 farming campaign has been hit by a severe lack of rainfall, stretching back as far as May in some areas, making field work difficult and ravaging the wheat crop while forcing farmers to delay soy planting.

Weekend rains, estimated by the Rosario grains exchange at around 20-50 millimeters, brought some relief to core farming regions and could unlock soy planting which is just 24% complete for early planted fields versus 80% a year ago.

"It rained very well. Very well. Producers are preparing for planting," Eduardo Sierra, an agronomist at the Buenos Aires grains exchange, told Reuters.

Sierra warned, however, that the ongoing farming campaign remained in "purgatory" after months of drought and with hot weather ahead.

"This coming week there are no new rains, and it will be hot. So much of what fell will get used up," he said, adding there would be more rainfall at the end of November, though not as widespread as in recent days.

Cristian Russo, head of estimates for the Rosario exchange, was also cautious despite the rainfall.

"For a large part of the (central) region, it helps to unlock soybean planting, but in areas that received less than 30 millimeters, it is not something that is going to change the situation," Russo said.

The exchange estimates soybean planting of ​​17 million hectares with production of about 48 million tonnes.

TOO LATE FOR WHEAT

The rains largely arrived too late for the wheat crop, which is expected to be the smallest in at least seven years due to drought and frosts. Argentine farmers have already begun the harvest, which ends in January.

The rains "can give a little hand to wheat, but...the damage has already been done," said Russo. The Rosario exchange cut its wheat harvest forecast to 11.8 million tonnes from an initial 19 million tonnes.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Eliana Raszewski, Kirsten Donovan)

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