Argentina eyes bumper harvest as wheat prices soar

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Argentine farmers plan to dramatically boost this year's wheat harvest, in a bid to cash in a Russian ban on cereal exports imposed in response to a record drought and devastating fires, officials said Friday.

Eyeing wheat prices at two year highs, Argentina's cereals exchange said "the high price of wheat bolsters our intention of making good on coverage."

"In some cases (farmers) are abandoning barley fields" to plant new wheat crops, the exchange said.

Earlier this week, leading wheat exporter Russia cut its grain harvest forecast by millions of tons because of the worst drought for decades.

Russia, a top global wheat exporter, has seen 20 percent of its arable land (10 million hectares, 24.7 million acres) scorched by a heatwave which has also hit its ambitions to raise its share of global markets.

Argentine officials said they hoped to increase wheat fields to 4.2 million hectares (10.4 million acres), an increase of over 20 percent.

The Argentine government expects production to top 13 million metric tons this year.

© 2010 AFP

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