May 3, 2018 / 8:05 PM / a year ago

Argentine drought gives way to heavy rains, slowing soy harvest

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Heavy rains over recent days in Argentina slowed soybean harvesting in central and southern parts of the Pampas grains belt while dryness in northern areas allowed for rapid harvesting, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.

The showers did not come in time to save thousands of hectares of soybeans from being burned in the drought that had blighted Argentina for November through late April.

Now that the unusually hot, dry weather is over, excessive rains have created soggy conditions in which multi-tonne harvesting combines are getting stuck in the mud as farmers try to bring in their soy and corn crops.

“To date, soybeans are 61.8 percent harvested. The average yield rose to 2.34 tonnes per hectare,” the exchange said in its weekly crop report. “Under this scenario, we maintain our final production estimate at 38 million tonnes.”

Corn harvesting has begun in most of the Pampas farm belt, which is focused in the central provinces of Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios.

“Nevertheless, rainfalls have hindered the collection of late-planted corn in several parts of the agricultural region,” the report said.

As of Thursday it said 32.5 percent of the 2017/18 corn crop had been brought in, with the national average yield at 7.16 tonnes per hectare. The exchange maintained its final commercial corn crop estimate at 32 million tonnes.

Reporting by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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