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December 2, 2010

Dryness in Argentina Slows Soybean Planting and Stresses Corn

At least thus far, the forecasted affects from La Nina in Argentina have been very accurate. After good rains in September, the rainfall during October and November has been below average in central and northern Argentina.

Recent dry weather in Argentina has slowed the soybean planting pace in the country where a little more than 50% of the soybeans have been planted. Rainfall continues to be good in Buenos Aires, but dryness has been increasing in Santa Fe and Cordoba as well as in northern areas of Argentina. After starting out at a faster than normal planting pace, the planting progress in Argentina is now several points behind last year's progress. The recent rains that have fallen in Argentina have resulted in only partial and temporary relief to the dry conditions, but farmers have taken the opportunity to resume planting their soybeans.

The planting window for soybeans is still open in Argentina until the end of December, but concerns are mounting that the delayed start is compromising the soybean yield prospects in Argentina. Generally, if soybeans are planted in Argentina after the third week of November, the potential yield of the crop starts to decline. Later than normal planting in Argentina can result in lower yields due to the prospect of season ending frosts which could cut short the growing season.

The dry conditions are also impacting the corn crop in Argentina. Much of the corn in central Argentina is in the 4-7 leaf stage and in the driest areas moisture stress is visible on the corn. The earlier planted corn is in pre-pollination, which is the time when the size of the ear is determined and once the size of the ear is set, it can't be changed later. A little stress early in the corn's life cycle is not necessarily a bad thing because it forces the plant to send its roots deep into the subsoil in search of moisture. Too much stress though has a definite negative impact on the corn yield potential. The current dryness in Argentina appears to be worse in Cordoba, Santa Fe and in northern Argentina.