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January 30, 2019

2018/19 Argentina Crops Complicated by Saturated Conditions

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

Argentina Soybeans - More heavy rains fell over the weekend compounding an already serious situation in parts of Argentina. The provinces of most concern are Santiago del Estero, Chaco, Entre Rios, northern and central Santa Fe, and central Buenos Aires. In some of these areas in northern Argentina, it started raining in November and it basically never stopped with repeated heavy rains every few days. They have already received record amounts of rainfall and unfortunately, there is more rain in the forecast.

The situation in Argentina is hard to evaluate. In the saturated areas, they have a problem of course with some soybeans that were never planted and other fields destroyed by the flooding. The Rosario Exchange estimated that as much as 500,000 hectares of soybeans have either been lost or will need to be replanted and that 2.5-3,000,000 hectares have been impacted by the wet weather. In their next report, I suspect that the number of lost hectares will increase. The wettest areas of Argentina are not the most productive areas, so some of the lost soybeans were going to be lower yielding anyway.

In the higher areas or areas outside of the saturated zone, the soybeans are doing fine and they have a very high yield potential. When they start harvesting the crop, I think there will be reports of 75-80 bushel soybeans in Argentina. So, there will be some lost acreage due to the flooding, but there is going to be higher yields in the non-saturated areas.

In their weekly report, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange rated the soybeans as 11.4% poor to very poor and 41.3% as good to excellent. This is a lower rating than last week and it is due to the heavy rains. The soil moisture for the soybeans is rated 1.6% short to very short and 67.0% optimum to surplus. More than 14% of the soybeans are now rated as having surplus soil moisture. The soybeans are 49% blooming and 17% setting pods.

Argentina Corn - The corn in Argentina was 92.7% planted last week with more than 400,000 hectares left to plant. Virtually all the corn left to plant is in the northern part of the country and the corn planting probably will not be completed until mid-February, provided the area dries out.

The early planted corn is doing very well and it has an excellent yield potential. The corn in Argentina is not as impacted by the saturated conditions as the soybeans. There is less corn in the saturated areas compared to soybeans, the corn is further advanced in its development than the soybeans, and corn can generally withstand saturated conditions better than small soybean plants.

Therefore, outside of the saturated areas, the corn is doing quite well and I would not be surprised if some of the early planted corn ends up yielding in the range of 170-200 bushels. The yields of the later planted corn are still to be determined and I am concerned about the more than 400,000 hectares of corn that remains to be planted. Since my corn estimate is a little on the low side, I left it unchanged this week and I have a neutral bias going forward.

My main concern for the Argentine corn crop is when the corn planting will be completed in far northern Argentina. It is already late and the forecast continues to look wet.

In their weekly report, The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange rated the corn crop as 4.1% poor to very poor and 59.6% good to excellent, which is a slight improvement compared to last week. The soil moisture for the corn was rated 3.7% short to very short and 53.3% optimum to surplus. A little more than 7% of the corn was rated as having surplus soil moisture.

The corn was rated as being 35% pollinating, but that is deceiving. The early planted corn is 29% filling grain and 3% mature, so the growing season is essentially over for the earliest planted corn. It's the late planted corn that is still developing. The late planted corn is 4% pollinating.