Rains 'crucially' needed to refresh Argentine corn crop

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Argentina's new corn crop urgently needs rain to avoid yield drops in the main agricultural region of the South American country, where 65% of planted area is suffering from a severe drought, the Rosario grains exchange said in a report on Friday.

Argentina, the world's third largest corn exporter, is expected to have a 2020/21 crop of 48 million tonnes. Farmers are just finishing with this season's sowing.

The exchange said that in the country's core farm region, 75% of the corn crop was in key initial development stages for determining yields. It said soils no longer had adequate moisture reserves to ensure ample crop yields.

"Rains over the coming weeks will be crucial for these crops," the report said.

Local weather forecasts see less rain than necessary over the coming weeks to fully restore parched crops.

The Southern Hemisphere summer season starts on Dec. 21. January is usually a month with little rainfall and high temperatures in Argentina. However, a mild version of the La Nina climate phenomenon has caused rains to be lower than usual in the country's main rural areas.

Argentine dryness is one factor that has pushed corn futures prices in the Chicago market to their highest levels in years over recent days. Soy, Argentina's main cash crop, has also been put at risk by months of unusually dry weather. The country is the world's No. 1 exporter of soymeal livestock feed.

According to a weather report published on Thursday by the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange, disparate showers are expected in the Pampas grains belt over the days ahead that should deposit up to 100 millimeters of rain in some areas. But the forecast also includes high temperatures that tend to dry out soils. (Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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