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August 30, 2017

Early Planting in Argentina may be Delayed by Excess Moisture

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

As spring planting approaches in Argentina, farmers in central Argentina continue to struggle with localized flooding and excess water. In the humid Pampas region of central Argentina, as much as 25% of the region has been impacted by excess moisture. The province of Buenos Aires appears to have been hardest hit, but the problems also extend into La Pampa, Cordoba, and Santa Fe. In Buenos Aires, as much as 60% of their milk production is in the areas hit hardest by the flooding.

The Rural Association of Buenos Aires and La Pampa (Carbap) used satellite imagery to estimate the amount of land under water or saturated. They estimated that as much as 21 million hectares could be impacted and that as much as 5.5 million hectares may be under water. They are estimating that as much as 2.5 million hectares may stay too wet to start spring planting at the normal time.

The most immediate concern is for the winter wheat crop. The Grain Exchange in Buenos Aires estimated that 150,000 hectares of intended wheat acreage was not planted due to wet conditions and that 80,000 hectares of planted wheat will be abandoned due to excess moisture.

Farmers in Argentina generally start to plant their corn crop in September and their soybean crop in October. Estimates are that Argentine farmers would increase their corn acreage in 2017/18 by 5-10%, but those estimates may now be in doubt if the region stays wet.

Farmers in Argentina increased their corn acreage last growing season due to the elimination of export taxes on corn. They also want to increase their corn acreage in order to return to a more normal rotation, but if the region stays too wet, they may be forced to switch some of their intended corn acreage to soybean production instead.

The soils in the humid Pampas have a very good water holding capacity, which could be both good and bad. It's good when there is dry weather, because the subsoil moisture can sustain crops during short periods of drought. On the other hand, it could be a problem during periods of excess rainfall because the water drains very slowly and saturated areas take a long time to dry out. Some areas in Buenos Aires province have been struggling with excess moisture for up to 15 months.