Back
March 27, 2018

Early Soy Yields in Argentina are Highly Variable, 11 to 72 bu/ac

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

As the 2017/18 growing season in Argentina limps to a disappointing end, the overriding question is how low can the crop estimates go? We won't know the answer to that question until all the harvest is complete. It is very hard to estimate where the bottom is when Argentina in general has experienced the driest growing season in decades with isolated areas experiencing the driest growing season on over one hundred years.

The hope had been that rain would help some of the later maturing soybeans. There were some 1-2 inch rains in a narrow band of the core production area 10 days ago, but the coverage was limited. The rains last week were mainly on the fringes of the principal production areas. Over the weekend there were good rains across far northeastern Argentina and the northern part of Santa Fe. The forecast for this week does not look promising any meaningful rain across the center of the country.

The soybeans in Argentina are generally rated about 80% poor to very poor with some of the latest planted soybeans rated up to 90% poor to very poor. The soil moisture is also rated about 90% short to very short.

The soybean crop continues to move closer to maturity with 18% of the total crop now mature. The earlier planted soybeans are 25% mature, which means that about 50-60% of the crop is turning yellow. Once the leaves start to turn yellow, there is no more potential yield increase. From that point forward, the seeds simply lose moisture. The opportunity for rain to help the early maturing soybeans is quickly slipping away. Within 1-2 weeks, the early planted soybeans will be probably be 80% or more turning yellow.

The later planted soybeans are approximately 30% filling pods, so they could still be helped by rain, but they could also be hurt by an early frost. A week ago, the temperatures in areas of Cordoba, San Luis, Buenos Aires, and western Santa Fe dropped down to 33°F and the concern is that the low temperatures may have cut short the pod filling process. Even if it wasn't a killing frost, this type of weather is not good for a crop that is already stressed due to dry conditions. There are now more concerns of potential frosts with new cold fronts moving up from the south.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange lowered their Argentine soybean estimate 2.5 million tons to 39.5 million. As you would expect, early soybean yields are highly variable depending on if the region received timely rains or not. Below are some of the yields reported by the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange and the Rosario Grain Exchange.

  • Entre Rios - 800 to 1,000 kg/ha (11.6 to 14.5 bu/ac)
  • Southern Cordoba - 1,000 to 2,300 kg/ha (14.5 to 33.3 bu/ac)
  • North-central Cordoba - 1,500 to 2,500 kg/ha (21.7 to 36.2 bu/ac)
  • Northern core region - 1,500 to 4,000 kg/ha (21.7 to 58.0 bu/ac)
  • W. Buenos Aires, N. La Pampa - 2,400 to 4,200 kg/ha (34.8 to 60.9 bu/ac)
  • Southern core region - 2,000 to 4,500 kg/ha (29.0 to 65.2 bu/ac)
  • Central core region - peak yield thus far of 5,000 kg/ha (72.5 bu/ac)

Thus far, the early soybean yields range from a low of 11 bu/ac to a high of 72 bu/ac. It is very difficult to calculate an average yield when the range is that large. Each week without rain is more bad news for the double crop soybeans, which are expected to be the lowest yielding soybeans in Argentina. There are some estimates that as much as 20% of the double crop soybeans may be abandoned.