South America Calling

Argentina Still Moisture-Starved

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Mid-month February is the southern hemisphere equivalent of August -- and exhausting dryness dominated Argentina. (USDA Crop Explorer graphic)

The dry pattern that became established in central Argentina during the past few weeks continues to intensify.

This dryness is coming during the major filling period for corn and soybeans. Crops will remain quite vulnerable to dryness through mid-March. With no significant rain in sight, additional crop losses are expected.

Temperatures have been variable with several days of hot weather followed by several days of cooler weather. We expect to see a return to hot weather during the next seven days adding to the stressful conditions.

The drought conditions in central Argentina are likely due to La Nina. Sea surface temperature departure for the equatorial eastern Pacific has remained at minus 0.7 degrees Celsius for the last month. However, we have noticed in the past couple of weeks that the coolest sea surface temperatures have shifted back to the west, away from the South American coast. Since this has occurred, drought conditions in central Argentina have intensified.

Meanwhile, the rainy season continues in central Brazil, which is also likely related to La Nina. This has kept the soybean harvest slow, along with the planting of second-crop corn (safrinha). There have been some concerns that the optimal planting window for the safrinha corn is closing fast. However, if the rainy season extends further into the southern hemisphere autumn season -- which it appears it might -- soil moisture will be available, making optimal planting dates less important this year.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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