Martell: Argentina Stressful Weather Damaging for Corn

January 9, 2012 01:38 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Argentina Stressful Weather Damaging for Corn

Corn and soybeans are in jeopardy in southern South America from nagging drought. A moderately strong La Nina may be the culprit, similar to the 2008-09 La Nina induced drought.

Hot weather has continued in Argentina’s grain belt including highs of 100 F January 5. The worst heat stress occurred in Buenos Aires and La Pampa in the southern grain belt.

Late Dec Arg Vegetation

Buenos Aires corn and soybeans continue to be stressed by an extremely dry atmosphere. The maximum temperatures near 100 F during the day and upper 50s F at night is a daily range of 40 F and similar to a desert climate. The normal daily range in temperatures is 20 degrees F. Corn in the top producing province is coming under severe moisture stress in January as the key pollination period advances.

The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange in late December confirmed there was irreversible damage in late December from heat and moisture stress in early pollinating corn.

Severe Corn Losses in 2008-09 From La Nina

Corn damage was so severe in Buenos Aires that Argentina corn production fell to 15.5 million metric tons in 2008-09 and 30% down on the year. Even worse drought than this year occurred in the top corn province, a year with a similar moderately strong La Nina. From October through December, the planting and vegetative growth period, only 45%- 65% of normal rainfall developed. That compares to 50-85% of normal this season, in the same time period. The satellite vegetation in late December indicated areas of extreme stress in Buenos Aires, where yield losses will be severe, but not as widespread as 2008.


Upper Midwest Drought Worrisome for Spring Planting

Very low precipitation since July 1 has depleted soil moisture in a wide swath of the Midwest corn belt increasing concerns over new crop corn potential. Without stored soil moisture, corn may be subject to drought in the 2012 growing season. Soil moisture deficits have built up to 4-8 inches in southern Minnesota, much of Iowa, central Illinois and eastern Missouri. Three to 4 inch deficits exist in northeast Nebraska and eastern South Dakota. At the same time, Ohio corn farms have flooded with 8-16 inches of surplus moisture in the 6 months ending December 31. The warm December with La Nina is rather baffling, since a year ago, also a La Nina winter December was much colder than normal causing deep penetrating frost.



Mixed Review in Hard Red Winter Wheat in Mid-Winter Report

Hard red winter wheat prospects improved slightly in Kansas and Oklahoma, following a wet December, but Texas wheat potential continued poor despite increased rainfall last month. The January 1 winter wheat update from USDA gives a mixed reading on new crop wheat potential.

Conditions in hard red winter wheat were much wetter than last year and well above normal. Kansas wheat was rated 53% good-excellent, 38% fair and 9% poor-very poor, not a stellar report, but improving from 47% G-E, 40% fair and 13% P-VP in late November. Kansas produces one-quarter of winter wheat, the largest wheat state in the country.

Oklahoma the number 2 top winter wheat state improved to 63% good-excellent, 30% fair and 7% poor-very poor. Wheat has responded positively to generous November-December rainfall. A favorable harvest is possible, if abundant rains continue into the spring.

Texas wheat potential continued dismal with 25% good-excellent, 37% fair and 38% poor-very poor. A sharply reduced harvest seems certain. Texas is a swing state in wheat production, as beef cattle producers have the option of turning cattle onto drought-damaged wheat using the crop as a feed grain.




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