Meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com has provided the following weekly highlights:
Heavy Rainfall Reaches Argentina Corn Belt
Argentina corn producers were happy to receive heavy rainfall last week in Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santa Fe, the key producing areas, but it probably came too late to reverse drought damage. Farmers in some areas of the grain belt have voiced concerns about what they say may be the worst drought in decades, the Agrarian Federation as saying on January 11.
If the rainfall is evaluated against the previous month, when virtually no rain occurred, there still remains a sizable moisture deficit. Marcos Juarez, Cordoba received 2.25 inches of rainfall, but that makes only 41% of normal rainfall in the 30 days ending January 11. Sauce Viejo, Santa Fe, had heavier rainfall adding to 64% in the recent month. Buenos Aires corn areas were much drier, Junin with 20% of normal, and Tandil 37%, and including the rainfall last week.
Drought stress in corn was made worse by extreme heat. Bolivar in western Buenos Aires had 11 days over 95 F in the 3 weeks, leading up to drought-breaking rainfall. Three of those days were above 100F.
USDA reduced its estimate for Argentina corn production to 26 million metric tons (MMT) in January, down 10.3% from the December estimate.
USDA Brazil Soybean Estimate May Be Overstated
The USDA provided a grim view on U.S. soybean exports in the January supply-demand report while projecting Brazil would produce a near-record harvest and exporting more soybeans than the U.S. in 2011-12. The U.S. has traditionally been the biggest soy exporter garnering a 42% share of world trade compared to 35% from Brazil.
Brazil soybean output was pegged at 74.0 MMT in the January report, only slightly less than the record 75.50 MMT harvested in 2011. The USDA view on new crop soybeans seems overly optimistic given persistent dry weather in South Brazil damaging soybeans. Rio Grande do Sul, in particular, has been extremely dry receiving only 30-60% of normal rainfall in the 2 months up to January 9. Soybeans are known to withstand drought better than corn, but drought has been so severe this summer that irreversible damage has been done. Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s 3rd leading soybean state.
Parana, also has suffered from prolonged drought, the second top soybean producer. December was exceptionally hot and dry with less than 40% of normal rainfall. Late-planted soybeans would still have a chance to make a productive yield, if very heavy rainfall develops the last half of the summer season, analysts claim, where flowering and pod setting has not yet occurred. Crop production losses have already been sustained. The Parana state Rural Economy Department lowered its soybean production forecast to 12.73 MMT in early January, down from 14.12 MMT projected earlier.
Drought Disaster in Ukraine To Shrink Wheat Harvest By 45%
The Ukraine Agriculture Ministry has announced that wheat production in the country may shrink to only 12 MMT, down from 22 MMT last season. The new wheat estimate would be scarcely more than half a normal crop. Historic drought has caused irreversible damage in wheat, which is heavily produced in the southern and central Ukraine.
Dry conditions began in early July of 2011, continuing up until mid December. Not all the wheat planted has germinated, the Ukraine Ministry of Agriculture claims, while one-third of sprouted wheat was in poor condition in January.
Soaking rains have finally developed the past 3 weeks in key wheat growing areas, but it comes too late for any meaningful recovery. Ukraine has received only 60 millimeters of rainfall July 1 – mid December, compared to 150 millimeters normally. This was the driest such period in at least a decade, based on a study conducted by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service.
Ukraine has emerged as a key global wheat exporter since 2005, garnering a 5.8% share of global wheat trade. Exports will be sharply curtailed in 2012-13, due to a short crop and limited domestic supplies.