Argentine soy crop to match record - rain allowing

US farm officials reminded that strong South American soybean crops were not in the bag yet even as they raised their forecast for Argentina's harvest to a record-equalling 54.5m tonnes.

The US Department of Agriculture, in its much-anticipated monthly Wasde crop briefing, raised by 1.0m tonnes its forecast for the Argentine crop in 2013-14, putting it on a par with the all-time high reached four seasons ago.

The revision reflected an upgrade by 300,000 hectares to 20.0m hectares in the forecast for the area that Argentine farmers will harvest, as relatively high prices lure growers from other crops.

"Area for soy this season is raised based on limited sunflower and corn plantings due to dry weather during early plantings and lower returns expected this year for these crops," USDA analyst Denise McWilliams said.

'More rainfall needed'

Dr McWilliams also noted that "scattered rains have promoted crop emergence and establishment in some regions.

"Moisture received in the central portion of the core planting region has stimulated planting and good emergence."

But she added that "other regions need additional rain… More rainfall is needed."

The concerns were echoed by weather service MDA which said that while "wetter weather on Friday may ease some of the dryness in south western Buenos Aires [province], more rain will still be needed".

Brazil estimates

The comments come as buyers are looking to South America to maintain the replenishment of world stocks begun with a good US soybean harvest.

Argentina is the third-ranked soybean exporter, after Brazil and the US, and is the biggest shipper of the soyoil and soymeal produced by processing the oilseed.

Earlier on Tuesday, Conab, the Brazilian crop bureau, pegged the domestic soybean harvest at a record 90.0m tonnes, enough to overtake the US as the top producer of the oilseed.

However, the USDA surprised many investors by keeping its own estimate for the Brazilian crop at 88.0m tonnes.

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