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October 8, 2012

Flood Waters Continue to Impact Spring Planting in Buenos Aires

Even though the month of September has been relatively dry, the flood waters from the late August downpours are still causing problems in Buenos Aires province. The province is one of the principal grain producing regions in Argentina and many areas of the province received the equivalent of half the normal yearly rainfall during a brief period in late August.

Initial surveys estimated that three million hectares of land was impacted by the flooding and still today there are 670,000 hectares that remain flooded. In the flat terrain of central Argentina, the water has been very slow to recede and any significant rainfall in the future could easily result in the areas being flooded once again.

The flooded areas would normally be planted to corn, soybeans, sunflowers, sorghum, and wheat. At the minimum, planting in the affected regions would be significantly delayed and if additional rainfall is received, it may not be possible to plant any crops at all this spring.

The first crop that would need to be planted is corn and the farmers in the region would like to have their corn planted by the end of October if possible. If the corn planting is delayed until November, farmers may opt to hold off planting any additional corn until early December so that the corn will not be pollinating during the heat of the summer. Nationwide, corn planting in Argentina has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start due to wet soils and cool temperatures. Approximately 17% of the corn has been planted in Argentina compared to 25% last year.

If farmers are not able to plant their corn in the affected areas, they may opt to plant additional soybeans instead. Soybeans in Argentina can be planted until the month of December and if soybean prices remain strong, any delay in corn planting would probably result in less corn and more soybeans being planted.

In addition to planting delays, saturated conditions can also result in additional disease pressures later in the growing season. Once the flood waters recede enough to allow for planting, farmers are usually desperate to get their crops planted and as a result, they may start planting before the soil has adequately dried. This can result in additional root disease and stalk diseases.

The situation could become worse if any significant rainfall is received after the crops have been planted. These areas could food again very easily resulting in the crops being flooded out or succumbing to a mired of root and stalk diseases which are very prevalent in saturated soils. If these flooded areas do eventually get planted, the crop yields achieved from these areas are generally less than during a normal growing season.