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BUENOS AIRES: Soyabean crops in key parts of Argentina’s farm belt are getting pounded by a yield-shriveling drought, spurring the Rosario grains exchange to slash its 2020/21 crop estimate by 4 million tonnes on Wednesday to 45 million.

Farmers and meteorologists said that hot, dry weather over recent days had taken a toll on crop expectations, warning of additional harvest estimate cuts ahead.

“February and the first 10 days of March did not provide significant rains to a large part of the central farm area. There are serious losses to yields and planted area. It is not yet possible to estimate the floor in terms of production,” the exchange said in its monthly crop report.

Grains powerhouse Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soyameal livestock feed used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia. It is also its No. 3 corn supplier.

Last week the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange warned that it may cut its crop estimates - 46 million tonnes a piece for soya and corn - if significant rains did not appear.

“We are moving towards a homogeneity of unfavorable conditions,” said the Buenos Aires exchange’s top analyst Esteban Copati.

“Ground moisture is rapidly being lost, especially in areas where crops are going through critical reproductive stages,” he said. “Early planted soya is losing yields and late-planted soya is losing not only yield but area that can be harvested at all.”

Key corn farming areas are getting hit as well, he added.

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