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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina is expected to harvest 44 million tonnes of soy and 45 million tonnes of corn this season, below the previously forecast 46 million tonnes for each crop, due to dry conditions, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.

The country's Pampas farm belt has suffered unusually dry weather since the middle of 2020. A recent heatwave combined with low rainfall has exacerbated the situation.

"Early-planted soy fields are approaching harvest with expected yields below historical averages. Late-planted soy is seeing losses of harvestable area due to pest attacks and depleted water reserves," the exchange said in its weekly crop report.

"At the same time, the worsening condition of corn crops has generated a decrease in yield expectations," the exchange said.

The central Pampas will continue to have high temperatures and only spotty rainfall over the days ahead, the exchange said in a separate weather report earlier in the day.

Although early-year showers brought partial relief to some of the driest areas, uneven rainfall in February and March forced the Rosario exchange to sharply cut its 2020/2021 soybean harvest estimate to 45 million tonnes on Wednesday.

"The climatic situation is very dramatic and very negative for late-planted soybeans. Many soybean crops have already been lost because the rains did not come," said Pablo Adreani, a Buenos Aires-based agricultural consultant.

"With regard to late-planted corn, the situation is a little better because corn has later flowering and vegetative periods, so it has more time to receive water than soy," Adreani said.

Argentina is the world's largest exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, and the third-largest corn exporter. Harvesting of 2020/2021 soybeans and corn, the two main crops in the country, is set to begin in the coming weeks.

"Tropical winds will return, causing very high maximum temperatures in the center of the agricultural area," the exchange said in its earlier weather report.

"Towards the end of the forecast (by next Thursday), the passage of a storm front will begin, producing general rainfall of varying intensity over the western part of the agricultural area, but without reaching its easterly zone", it said, referring to the area most affected by the drought.

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