Argentine wheat harvest forecast slashed again amid drought

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 26 (Reuters)Argentina’s 2022/23 wheat harvest will come in at 13.7 million tonnes, the Rosario grain exchange said on Wednesday, a sharp cut from its previous forecast of 15 million tonnes amid a protracted drought that has hammered farmers in the country.

Argentina is a major international supplier of wheat, a role that has come into greater focus amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has dented global grains supply. Ukraine and Russia are both major wheat producers.

But the South American nation has faced several months of dry weather and late frosts that have hit wheat yields hard, with the harvest set to be the worst in seven years and well below the record 23 million tonnes a year earlier.

The Rosario and separate Buenos Aires grains exchange have both repeatedly cut their forecasts for wheat production over the last month.

“There is an unprecedented drought,” said Cristian Russo, a Rosario agronomist, adding that more than half of the province of Buenos Aires, the main farming region in Argentina, was suffering the lowest level of water reserves in 30 years.

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A production of 13.7 million tonnes of wheat would be the lowest since 10.9 million tonnes in the 2015/16 campaign.

“We are beginning to realize that we have to adjust lost area,” Russo added, indicating that 9.2% of the area planted with 2022/23 wheat will not be harvested due to its poor condition, from the 6.6% previously forecast.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; editing by Diane Craft)

((Carolina.Pulice@thomsonreuters.com;))

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