BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Persistent drought and high fertilizer prices are conspiring to cut Argentina’s 2022-23 wheat planting area estimate, Reuters reported, citing the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange on June 16.

Argentina's planted wheat area is currently seen at 6.4 million hectares by the exchange, cut from its initial forecast of 6.6 million hectares about a month ago, and a further reduction is not out of the question.

“If the drought scenario is not reversed in the short term, it could result in a new adjustment of our area projection," the exchange said in its weekly grain report, Reuters reported, adding that the time frame for sowing in country's west and center-north agricultural areas is near its end.

Argentina is among the world’s major exporters of wheat, and the US Department of Agriculture’s June World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate pegged the South American nation’s exports at 14 million tonnes on 20 million tonnes of production for 2022-23.

Lack of rain hinders or prevents sowing of the cereal. Until June 15, Argentina’s producers had planted 47.4% of the estimated area, 10 percentage points behind the rate registered a year ago, the exchange said.

Over the next seven days “most of the Argentine agricultural area ... will register little or no rainfall” defined as less than 10 millimeters. In its monthly report, the exchange forecast a severe, dry and cold winter” for the 2022-23 season, from next week through September.

Regarding 2021-22 soybeans, the exchange said farmers have already collected 99% of the planted area and final production of the crop would be of 43.3 million tonnes. Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soy oil and soy meal, projected by USDA to ship 28.5 million tonnes of soy meal and 5.53 million tonnes of soy oil in 2021-22.

The 2021-22 corn harvest is 37% complete with production forecast steady at 49 million tonnes, the exchange said.