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March 13, 2018

Recent Rains Disappoint again in Argentina

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

Farmers in Argentina suffered through another dry week last week. There were a few showers over the weekend in southern Buenos Aires and southeastern La Pampa, but they occurred in a relatively narrow band and certainly they were not heavy enough to reverse the overall trend. There was very little rainfall over the weekend in areas that needed it the most and I would categorize the last rainfall event as disappointing once again.

There is an increased chance of rainfall later this week and some meteorologists are forecasting a wetter pattern in Argentina during the second half of March. It remains to be seen if that pattern develops or not.

The early planted soybeans are in the midst of filling pods with 62% of the early-planted soybeans filling pods and 16% mature. I expect that a few fields of soybeans will start to be harvested this week and certainly the early harvest will get underway next week. I would characterize the soybeans in Argentina as about 70% early planted and 30% later planted.

When soybeans are filling pods, they generally require about 2 inches of water per week. The water can come from rainfall or from water stored in the soil. Unfortunately, the soil moisture in Argentina is currently rated as approximately 85% short to very short. In some of the dryer areas of central Argentina, they received approximately 2 inches of rainfall in January and 0.1 inches in February.

The later planted soybeans are now 32% setting pods and 6% filling pods. The later planted soybeans in central Argentina have received very little rainfall since they were planted. Some of the later planted soybeans may be abandoned or have very low yields in the range of 20 to 25 bu/ac.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange lowered their 2017/18 soybean estimate by 2 million tons last week to 42.0 million. Even though they left the planted acreage unchanged at 18.0 million hectares, they did indicate that the soybean harvested acreage will be down by at least 700,000 hectares or more. I am assuming the lower harvested acreage is a combination of some of the double crop soybeans not being planted and abandonment due to dry conditions. If you assume that all 18.0 million hectares were in fact planted, then loosing 700,000 hectares would equate to 3.8%, which is a reasonable amount given the conditions in the country.

The soybeans in general are rated approximately 75% poor to very poor and the soil moisture is approximately 85% short to very short. A lot of the early planted soybeans are rapidly approaching maturity, so there are only a couple of weeks left in their growing season so every opportunity for rain is critical.