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Argentina soybean sales stall near 72% of current harvest

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Argentine farmers' soybean sales inched up last week, reaching 72.2% of the 2021/22 harvest of the crop, data from the Agriculture Ministry showed on Tuesday, slightly behind the 74.2% sold at the same point last year.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of processed soy meal and soybean oil, an important input for animal feed. It is also the No. 3 corn exporter globally and an important producer of wheat despite a drought that has hammered the crop.

Farmers sold about 249,300 tonnes of soy from Nov. 3-9, down by nearly half compared with the same week during the previous season, the data showed. Argentina's 2021/22 soy harvest is estimated at 44 million tonnes.

Soybean sales had surged in September to 13.3 million tonnes, around three times the monthly average, after the government issued a preferential exchange rate to spur producers to offload inventory and bring in much-needed foreign currency.

Argentina's 2022/2023 soybean planting season, severely delayed by drought, is expected to pick up speed thanks to rains over the weekend, although the rainfall fell short of what was needed in three-quarters of the Pampas region, the Rosario grains exchange said in a report.

Argentine farmers have also sold 70.4% of the 59 million-tonne 2021/2022 corn crop, according to the ministry, about 2 percentage points down from sales notched during the same period in the previous season.

Planting of 2022/2023 corn, which kicked off in September, was delayed by drought which forced farmers to cut the area planted with corn to its lowest level in six years, according to data from the Rosario grains exchange.

The exchange recently lowered its wheat production forecast to 11.8 million tonnes due to drought and frost. On Thursday, the government will share its first estimate for the 2022/2023 wheat harvest. (Reporting by Belen Liotti in Buenos Aires Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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