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Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Argentine soybean farmers, the world’s third-largest producers, have planted 2 million hectares less than a year ago because of rain shortages after sowing more than half the projected crop.

Farmers have planted 57.2 percent of the crop, down from 65.5 percent planted a year earlier, the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said today in a report published on its website.

Planting of the oilseed, which started in September, will drop to 18.7 million hectares (46.2 million acres) in the current season, from 19 million in the prior planting period, the exchange said. Harvesting usually starts in March. Farmers harvested a record 55 million tons in the previous season.

Argentina is the world’s third-largest exporter of soybeans, behind the U.S. and Brazil. Argentina is facing below average rains because of La Nina, a weather pattern that forms in the Pacific and is forecast to fully develop in Argentina in December, the exchange said.

A lack of rain in recent days affected sowing in Argentina’s main soybean producing areas, in the southern part of Santa Fe province and the northern part of Buenos Aires province, the exchange said. About 40 percent of the country’s output comes from the region.

Soybean futures for January delivery rose 1.75 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $12.8475 a bushel at 12:28 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the price reached $12.87, the highest since Nov. 16.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rodrigo Orihuela in Buenos Aires at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at

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