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BUENOS AIRES: Hard late-March rains in Argentina have set the stage for smooth wheat and barley sowing, but the storms arrived too late to help corn and soya yields in areas that had been pounded by months of dry weather, farmers and crop analysts said on Monday.

The South American grains powerhouse is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and top supplier of soyameal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

“There are regions where late-planted soya is in very bad shape and where corn harvesting has started with terrible yields. The rain got here too late for these crops,” said Francisco Santillan, a grower in the bread-basket province of Buenos Aires.

Soya and corn are Argentina’s main cash crops.

“The rains will help with wheat and barley planting. The big problem this year is late planted soya, which took the brunt of dry weather and high temperatures in January and February,” said Buenos Aires-based agricultural analyst Pablo Adreani.

Argentine barley and wheat is sown in May-July. The main importer of Argentine wheat is neighbouring Brazil. China, bereft of barley from its usual supplier Australia due to a bi-lateral trade fight, has stepped up purchases of Argentine barley needed to help Asia’s top economy rebuild its disease-ravaged hog herd.

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