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November 30, 2017

Increasingly Dry Weather in Argentina Worries Producers

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

The weather focus in South America has certainly shifted to Argentina. The developing dry weather pattern is of immediate concern in the provinces of Cordoba and Sao Luis. It is more of a longer term concern in the provinces of Santa Fe, Entre Rios, and northern Buenos Aires. Generally, the driest areas are in the western and northwestern production areas, but it now also becoming a concern in the heart of Argentina's production areas.

It was reported last week that soybean planted had come to a halt in Sao Luis and parts of Cordoba due to excessively dry conditions. The Office of Risk Assessment in the Argentine Ministry of Agriculture indicated last week that there is a high risk of moisture shortage in both provinces over the next 15 days.

There were some scattered showers in the region over the weekend, but they were generally light, less than a half an inch, and the coverage was limited. One small area of southern Cordoba did receive a good rain. The near term forecast is only calling for light and scattered showers for this week.

The soils of Argentina hold water very well, so there is still adequate subsoil moisture for the crops that have already been planted. The problem is that the topsoil is drying out to the point where germination and stand establishment of newly planted crops could not be assured without additional moisture. As a result, farmers in the dryer regions have parked their planters and they will wait for 1-2 inches of rainfall before they resume planting.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange indicated that approximately 37% of the soybean acreage in Argentina is in need of additional moisture. The Rosario Grain Exchange was more pessimistic by stating that parts of Cordoba could already be classified as being in a drought. Cordoba generally produces about a quarter of Argentina's corn and soybeans.

Temperatures have been cool thus far in Argentina, so that has reduced the moisture loss from the soil and it has helped to hold down any potential moisture stress. In fact, there were reports of patchy frost as late as this past weekend.

The early planted corn in Argentina may be the first crop impacted by the dryness. The early corn will start to pollinate by early to mid-December. If the dryness persists until then, there could be problems with the early pollination.