March 28, 2018 / 7:22 PM / 10 months ago

Argentine soy, corn harvests begin with low yields reported

Soy (front) and corn plants are seen in a drought-affected farm near Chivilcoy, Argentina February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Martin Acosta

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Drought-hit Argentine soy yields are well below historic averages, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Wednesday, with 8.8 percent of the harvest completed in the central farm belt and little hope of a near-term improvement in the weather.

A recent increase in dryness in northern parts of the Pampas agricultural area, which had been moist earlier in the season, did not bode well for harvesting over the weeks ahead, the exchange said in its weekly crop report.

“There were no rains over recent days in much of the agricultural area,” it said, “increasing the risk of yield losses in the northern part of grains belt.”

Argentina’s 2017/18 commercial use corn crop was also damaged by more than four months of hot, dry weather, the report said. “With 18 percent of corn area having been harvested, yields are poor,” it said.

Rains that had been expected to relieve Argentina’s drought-hit soy and corn crops failed to materialize over the previous weekend, all but ending hope that yields might recover from four months of unrelenting sun with more heat and dryness expected over the days ahead.

Soy crop estimates started the 2017-18 season in the 55 million tonne range, but have been slashed to around 40 million.

This month the exchange cut its soybean harvest estimate to 39.5 million tonnes from 42 million and reduced its corn crop forecast to 32 million tonnes from 34 million tonnes.

The Rosario grains exchange meanwhile slashed its soy crop forecast to 40 million tonnes from a previous 46.5 million while cutting its corn estimate to 32 million tonnes from 35 million.

Argentina is the world’s No. 3 soybean exporter and its biggest supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten pigs and cattle from Europe to Asia. The drought has put upward pressure on food prices, making it harder for poor countries to feed themselves.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by James Dalgleish

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