Rains permit Argentina wheat planting -exchange
BUENOS AIRES, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Rains over Argentina's main grain belt allowed planting of the 2013/14 wheat crop to progress last week, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said on Thursday.
Farmers had seeded 95.3 percent of the estimated 3.6 million hectares designated for the grain, the Exchange said in its weekly report.
This represented an advance of 2.6 percentage points from the previous week but was 1.3 points less than the area sown with wheat at the same time last year.
Planting had been held up by dry soil, but showers over the last few weeks provided relief, the exchange said. The agricultural heart of the country is now totally sown.
"The fields are developing well with adequate humidity," the exchange said.
The agriculture ministry has not yet given a forecast for the crop, but it expects 4 million hectares to be sown. Global wheat demand has been pushed higher by crop damage in China, the world's top grower.
The rains slowed Argentine corn harvesting, however.
Collection of this year's crop in the world's No. 3 exporter advanced 3.3 percentage points over the past week to 96.5 percent, according to the exchange.
The exchange estimates production of 24.8 million tonnes of corn, below the government's 32.1-million-tonne forecast.
"The remaining fields have grains with excess moisture and producers prefer to leave them in the field, even though this delays threshing, rather than pay the cost of drying," it said.
(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Writing by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Ken Wills)