July 24, 2017 / 5:15 PM / 2 years ago

Storms in Argentina to slow last weeks of wheat sowing: crop experts

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Storms in Argentina over the coming two weeks will slow the final stages of 2017/18 wheat planting, crop weather experts said on Monday, adding that flooded areas will likely be sown with soy once the moisture evaporates later this year.

Argentina’s wheat-planting window ends in August. Heavy rains will make it hard for growers to plant the whole 5.4 million hectares that the highly-referenced Buenos Aires Grains Exchange has estimated will be sown with wheat this season.

“Areas that cannot be planted with wheat will be sown with soy, practically on a one-to-one basis,” the exchange’s weather consultant Eduardo Sierra said in a telephone interview.

Growers on Argentina’s Pampas grains belt have sown about 4.4 million hectares of wheat so far. Last season they planted 5.1 million hectares with wheat and harvested 16.3 million tonnes, according to the exchange.

“The planting window is short, and we expect two weeks of bad weather to start today. It’s like a coup de grace for wheat sowing this year,” Sierra said.

Areas expected to be hit by the storms ahead include southern parts of the bread-basket province of Buenos Aires.

Wheat fields already flooded in eastern La Pampa province will probably be planted with soybeans in September, said Stella Carballo, a meteorologist with the government’s Weather and Water Institute.

“It’s probably too late for what’s been lost there to be replanted with wheat,” she said.

Reporting by Maximiliano Rizzi; editing by Hugh Bronstein and Grant McCool

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