South America Calling

Argentina Soybean Planting Delayed Due to Dry Conditions

Lin Tan
By  Lin Tan , DTN China Correspondent
Over 45% of Argentina's soybean acreage is planted. Early planted soybeans are emerged and in good condition. (DTN photo by Lin Tan)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (DTN) -- Argentina soybean planting progress is a little delayed due to dry weather conditions. However, the dry weather has been beneficial for wheat and barley harvesting.

"We had some rains over the weekend, but not for all soybean areas," said Ignacio Greco, broker and agronomist at Mercoplate S.A., a brokerage company in Buenos Aries. "More rain is still needed."

Early planted soybeans are emerged and in good condition. Farmers are keeping their planters running whenever soil moisture allows. The weekend rain increased soil moisture in many areas and helped farmers to plant more beans this week.

Normally, Argentina soybean planting progress lasts for three months, from November to January. One reason is that the often-dry conditions in the country prevent farmers from planting. Another reason is that second-crop soybeans have to wait until winter crops, such as wheat or barley, reach maturity and are harvested. If harvest is delayed, soybean planting will also be delayed. This year, some of areas of Argentina have had too much rain before November, which made winter crops mature late.

"We are above 45% of the soybean acreage planted," said Greco. "We may see a big increase of planting progress this week." So far, planting progress is slower compared to the average planting pace, but faster than 2016's pace.

Argentinean farmers will plant about 18 million hectares (about 44.48 million acres) of soybeans this year. That's about 6% less than last year, because farmers plan to plant more wheat, corn and sunflowers. Within this acreage, at least 6 million hectares (14.83 million acres) of second-crop soybeans will be planted after winter crops.

In its November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates Report, USDA estimated 2017-18 Argentina soybean production at 57 million metric tons (2.1 billion bushels), down from an estimated 57.80 mmt (2.12 bb) in 2016-17.

"There is a rising concern on weather, as there is less rain in the next 15-day forecast," Greco said. These dry conditions will affect both soybeans and corn, but will have a bigger impact on soybeans at this stage, he added.

It's not only the current dry conditions that the market is worried about. A La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean appears to be established and could affect weather patterns over the next few months, according to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

Anderson wrote in his Ag Weather Forum on Dec. 1, that La Nina is associated with drier weather in Argentina.

"The central crop belt received some useful rain during the end of November, especially in the state of Cordoba, which is located on the western side of the major crop region," Anderson said. "Rainfall totaled from 0.3 to 1.5 inches, and heavier locally. A few more showers were noted at the end of the week. However, the pattern looks drier during next week. The trade concern is that a drier trend could be accompanied by heat just as the Southern Hemisphere crop season goes into its version of summer."

Dry conditions would help wheat and barley mature and be harvested, but won't be good for soil moisture for second-crop soybeans, Greco said.

"Winter crops leave the fields with practically no soil water reserves, and this is why rains are extremely needed," Greco said.



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