This Week's Look at South American Agriculture

November 4, 2016 01:10 PM
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Heavy rains in Argentina have devastated wheat and held back corn plantings in some areas, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange, the government grain agency and news reports. Meanwhile, in Brazil, the soybean crop planting is racing ahead, with 41% already completed.

The rains have slowed corn plantings in the Argentina's central and southern corn belt, but despite the weather woes, corn plantings of an estimated 4.9 million hectares are 34.7% complete, and would constitute 27% more than last year’s 3.85 million corn hectares, the agency says.

American ag businesses, including Archer Daniels Midland Co., of Chicago, Ill., are keeping a close watch.

“The intention of farmers has been to shift to corn some acreage in Argentina, but early planting conditions are maybe making it a little bit more difficult to do that, and some people have started to plant some soybeans [instead],” comments ADM’s Chairman and CEO Juan R. Luciano during a third quarter earnings conference call earlier this week.

At least 600,000 hectares are still soggy from heavy rains last month in the three provinces of Buenos Aires, La Pampa and Cordoba, where flooding devastated wheat plantings, according to a report by Noticias Agricolas. Farmers in the region have not been able to plant soybeans because the fields are still underwater and flooded roads are causing transportation problems, the agency says.

The most advanced corn planting is in the core areas, where 80% to 90% of the corn has been planted, according to South American grains analyst Michael Cordonnier, of the Soybean and Corn Advisor.  Corn planting is 20% to 50% complete in southern Argentina, while in northern regions, it is only 0% to 15%, he says. According to the analyst, farmers in Argentina “generally don’t like to plant corn during the month of November because if they did, the corn would be pollinating during January, which can be the hottest and driest time of the summer.”

Meanwhile, in Brazil, the soybean crop is 41% planted, which is slightly ahead of average, with the most progress made in the country’s central region, according to Cordonnier. But other areas have experienced weather woes.

Weather fluxuating between drought and flooding (depending on the exact location) have delayed between 10% to 20% of soybean plantings in some parts of the country, Cordonnier says. However, in the largest soybean producing state of Mato Grosso, plantings are moving along ahead of schedule. The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) reported that soybean plantings are 67% complete, compared to 38% at the same time last year. 

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