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Argentine farmers stall soybean planting amid drought

BUENOS AIRES, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Soybean planting in Argentina's core farm belt region is far behind last year's pace due to a lack of rain, the Rosario grains exchange said in a report on Friday, a concern for farmers in the world's top exporter of soy oil and meal.

The protracted drought, linked to a third straight La Nina climate pattern, has hammered wheat production and now threatens to affect the upcoming soy and corn season, with farmers likely to invest less in planting unless conditions improve.

"The extreme climatic conditions now put soybean planting on the ropes. A year ago half of the soybeans in the region had already been planted, today only 250,000 hectares, that is, only 5%," the exchange said in the report.

It added there was no rain forecast in the region, one of the country's main growing areas, over the next week. The exchange's current forecast is for nationwide planting of 17 million hectares of 2022/23 soy.

"It is the most difficult and uncertain planting of the last 12 years," it added, saying the producers in the farm belt region were on a "strict war economy" footing.

The Rosario exchange warned that the weather forecast for the first two weeks of November was not encouraging and rains in recent weeks, while helping improve reserves in some areas, had not made enough of an impact.

"The extreme drought that the region has endured means that there's still a very significant deficit (of water)," it said.

Argentina is the world's leading exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, the country's top source of export revenue. The sowing of the oilseed usually begins in October in the South American country. (Reporting by by Lucila Sigal in Buenos Aires Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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