South America Calling
Alastair Stewart South America Correspondent

Wednesday 01/16/13

Amber Light on Argentina Soy, Corn Dryness

Soybean and corn farms in key growing regions of Argentina are in need of rain.

This sounds like a line fed by farmers to know-nothing journalists after regular deluges between October and December left many complaining that they couldn't plant because of waterlogging.

But several sources say it is true.

Many farms in Buenos Aires and Cordoba provinces have received little or no rain since Dec. 20 and with soybeans entering the key flowering phase and corn developing fast, showers are needed in the next week or two.

"We needed sun to dry up the fields before. Now we need rain and not just a drizzle," said Eduardo Reynolds, a grains broker who also farms in western Buenos Aires province.

Unfortunately, the near-term weather outlook isn't too encouraging. Southwestern and western crop areas got some rain overnight, but patterns favor below-normal rainfall during the next 10 days, according to Joel Burgio, DTN senior ag meteorologist.

The high-pressure system currently sitting over continental Argentina, which has limited rainfall to one-fourth to 1 inch in many parts of the grain belt during January, is only expected to move in February.

Obviously, the impact of a dry January -- a notoriously erratic month for rain -- will be much less than normal because the excessive rains meant soil moisture levels were so high coming into the month.

However, those levels need to be replenished and are already below average across the northwest of the grain belt, according to SMN, the state weather service.

This is obviously a situation to watch.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently forecasting an Argentine soybean crop of 54 million metric tons, up 35% on last year's drought-hit crop, while corn output is pegged at 28 million metric tons, up 33% on the 2011-12.

Local forecasters generally put the number lower, while the Argentine government pegs production higher.

(ES)

Posted at 10:29AM CST 01/16/13 by Alastair Stewart
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