Argentine soy crops still thirsty for rain

Buenos Aires / Reuters / The scant rains and high temperatures worrying Argentine farmers since January have started to hit the development of corn and soy, particularly later-planted crops, the Agriculture Ministry said Feb. 15.

Rain that fell in the previous few days did not reach many areas in urgent need of water after weeks of dry weather. Later-planted 2012-13 soy and corn plants are being worst affected because they are passing through crucial growth stages just as moisture levels dwindle.

Crops seeded earlier in the season benefited from the plentiful rains that soaked the Pampas Farm Belt in the second half of last year, and most are in better shape.

“Rains are urgently needed because unless it rains in the current yield-setting phase, yields will be seriously affected,” the government said in its weekly crop report, referring to the district of Veinticinco de Mayo, which lies in the centre of top soy province Buenos Aires. In Santa Fe province, the country’s No. 3 grains producer, early-seeded corn is in excellent condition, but later-sown crops “are starting to show signs of the lack of soil moisture, especially at midday when it’s hottest,” the report said.

Farmers in Argentina have virtually finished planting this season’s soy and corn crops. By Feb. 14, they had sown 97 per cent of the 4.58 million hectares earmarked for the corn crop and 99 per cent of the estimated soy area of 19.35 million hectares.

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