Argentina 2017-18 grain season seen helped by strong rains


Strong rains expected in Argentina's upcoming 2017-18 crop year are expected to benefit key soy, wheat and corn crops while farmers stay alert for floods that put 1 million hectares out of production last season, local meteorologists said on Tuesday.

The government has estimated that 750,000 hectares of soybeans and 250,000 hectares of corn, the country two main cash crops, were lost due to bad weather in the 2016-17 season.

"It looks like it's going to be another wet (southern Hemisphere) fall, with storm-related risks," said Eduardo Sierra, climate consultant with the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange.

The exchange has a 56.5 million tonne estimate for the 2016-17 soy harvest, which usually goes from March to June. The unusually strong storms that pelted Argentina's Pampas farm belt during the growing season helped boost yields in some areas while washing out others, the exchange says.

Argentina is the world's top exporter of soybean livestock feed as well as a major corn and wheat supplier.

Wheat is the first of the three crops to be planted in Argentina each year, with sowing set to start this month. Then comes corn sowing in September and soy planting in October.

"Wheat sowing will start without any problems, and I'd say that there's already enough ground moisture to last through the winter," said German Heinzenknecht, meteorologist at the CAA Applied Climatology Consultancy.

In May and June there is a good chance that Argentina will get more than average rainfall, said Natalia Gattinoni, agro-meteorologist with the government's Weather and Water Institute.

But she said most areas will have time for excess moisture to dry up before corn and soy planting starts.

The 2016-17 corn harvest is expected by the exchange to produce 37 million tonnes. Farmers are forecast to plant 5.5 million hectares with wheat and harvest 17.5 million tonnes in the 2017-18 season compared with 16.3 million tonnes in 2016-17.

"It's quite possible that in the spring, when it starts to rain heavily again, a lot of areas will become isolated again, making planting difficult," Sierra said. "That should not affect production very much, but it does increase costs for farmers."


Readers choice: TOP-5 articles of the month by UkrAgroConsult