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January 13, 2012

Argentina Crops Benefit from Recent Rains

The first good rains in many weeks fell across Argentina this week raising hopes of Argentine farmers that the weather may now be improving. The rains were generally widespread across the heart of the corn and soybean production and they will benefit especially the still developing soybean crop.

Unfortunately for the corn crop in Argentina, much of the damage from the drought has already been done and the losses are irreversible. The principal damage was done during pollination when hot and dry conditions resulted in poor pollination and poor grain filling.

Additionally, the dry conditions during December and early January prevented farmers from planting the last remaining 600,000 hectares of their intended corn acreage. With the recent rains, it is now expected that some farmer will quickly try to plant their remaining corn. Only those farmers who received a good soaking rain this week will attempt to plant corn at this late date. If they did not receive a generous rain, they will have to wait for additional precipitation and by that time it arrives, it may be too late to plant corn. If the farmers cannot plant all their intended corn, they may decide to switch some of their intended corn acreage to additional soybean production.

The soybean crop in Argentina is certain to benefit from the recent rains. The earlier planted soybeans are flowering and setting pods and the later planted soybeans are either beginning to flower or still in vegetative development. Up until this week, the soybean growth had been very slow and stunted, but with the recent rains, the crop could start to recuperate.

There still remains about 2.5 million hectares of soybeans not yet planted and most of those are double crop soybeans planted after wheat. Double crop soybeans in Argentina can be plated until the end of January, but for each week that planting is delayed, the yield prospects will continue to decline.

Argentina's neighbor to the north, Paraguay, has been suffering from the same drought as Argentina and southern Brazil. The Vice Minister of Agriculture in Paraguay announced recently that the drought could cause a loss of production in the range of 40% for small family farmers. He confirmed that soybeans have been significantly impacted in Paraguay and soybeans are the principal export from the country. The minister also reported that there are problems with corn, cotton, beef, and milk production in Paraguay as well. Unfortunately for small farmers in the country, these crops are their main source of income.