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World briefs Jan. 12

La Nina threatens South American, U.S. crops

Reuters / The U.S. government forecaster warned Jan. 5 that La Nia, the weather phenomenon widely blamed for withering drought in the southern United States and South America, may persist longer than expected, into the Northern Hemisphere spring.

The prolonged La Nia, although weaker than it was a year ago, threatens to roil commodity markets from corn to coffee as dry conditions in Argentina and Brazil whither crops while the southern United States — a prime growing area for cotton and some wheat — suffers through a once-a-century drought.

Drought in Argentina

Buenos Aires / Reuters The drought that is drying out Argentina’s farm areas will cut into the country’s 2011-12 corn harvest, as crops struggle to flower under parched conditions, the government said in a weekly report Jan. 6.

The world’s No. 2 corn-producing country has been hit by dryness related to the La Nia phenomenon just as corn and soy plants need water to help them develop.

“The drought is getting worse day by day,” the report said.

Conditions are critical, particularly in the Bragado district of northern Buenos Aires province, the report said.

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