Coming dry spell in Argentina, after March rains, seen helping harvest

After a prolonged dry period, rains came, but now they’ve broken

Reuters – Rains that have pelted Argentina’s Farm Belt since mid-March halted the deterioration of corn and soy yields, and a coming dry spell will help kick off harvesting of the country’s two main cash crops, climatologists said March 31.

The South American grains powerhouse is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and top supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia.

“Most of Argentina’s agricultural area will see little to no rainfall,” the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said in a report about the first half of April.

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That’s good news for farmers now starting to bring in their 2020-21 corn and soybeans. While key to crop development, rain makes it hard to move heavy harvesting combines over wet ground.

March’s storms arrived too late to help yields in areas pounded by hot, dry weather from mid-2020 through February. Late-planted soy was especially hard hit by dryness.

“Since around mid-March there should have been no more damage from dryness, and even some late-stage improvement to yield potential,” said U.S.-based Isaac Hankes, an analyst at Refinitiv, the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters.

“The forecast shows dryness returning, which should be well timed for the harvest and is in line with long-term expectations from our April-May outlook,” Hankes added.

Argentine corn starts getting planted in September, with harvesting through July. Soy season is October through May.

The Rosario exchange chopped its soy harvest forecast to 45 million tonnes from a previous 49 million tonnes, citing months of high temperatures and scant rainfall. And the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange cut its soy crop forecast to 44 million tonnes from a previously projected 46 million tonnes.

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