Argentina wheat planting ends with expectations of a record crop


Argentine farmers are finishing this year's wheat sowing, helped by moist soils and cold weather that is prolonging the vegetative stage of crops, raising hopes of high yields and a record harvest, growers and analysts said on Wednesday.

Cold Southern Hemisphere winter weather allows seedlings to grow more sprigs per plant. Harvesting starts in November.

"High international prices are giving Argentine farmers a big incentive to grow wheat," Gustavo Lopez, head of consulting firm Agritrend, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

"The planting season went very well. Ground moisture is good and the crop is developing nicely," said Lopez, who estimates the 2018/19 wheat crop at 19.5 million to 20 million tonnes.

Growers rushed to sow wheat in the moist conditions left by rainstorms that helped destroy Argentina's recently-harvested soybean crop.

"Our wheat planting is done and the fields are looking really good. We are expecting high yields," said Julieta Lastra, who operates a farm in the western part Buenos Aires province.

The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange has a preliminary wheat harvest estimate of 19 million tonnes, also above what it says is the current record of 17.75 million tonnes. Exchange analysts say they may increase the harvest estimate and that a good wheat crop should help finance an expansion of October soy planting.

"We have already started fertilizing the fields we plan to use for soy and corn, to build up phosphorous levels in the soil," Lastra said.

Last season's soy crop was hobbled by a four-month drought that gave way in April to torrential rains that made it impossible to harvest fields in low-lying areas that just days earlier had been gasping for water. On the positive side, the rain left ample soil moisture, which was great for wheat sowing.

In April alone, Lastra said it rained 206 millimeters on her farm.

The Rosario grains exchange forecasts a 20 million tonne wheat harvest. It estimates this season's wheat exports at a record 13.5 million tonnes, most slated for Brazil.

"The wheat season of coming along very well," said Emilce Terre, head analyst at the Rosario exchange.


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