South America Calling

Rain Eases Argentina Stress

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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The past two weeks have brought from 2 to 5 inches of rain to Argentina crop areas, up to three times normal. (DTN graphic)

Despite the presence of La Nina in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, January has been a good one for rain in Argentina. Total rain in the two-week period from Jan. 6-20 amounted to from 50 to 125 millimeters (2 to 5 inches). That is significant rain and equates to 150 to 300% of normal. USDA's weekly weather and crop bulletin offered an optimistic assessment: "Much-needed rain soaked key farming regions, helping to replenish soil moisture reserves for more normal development of summer grains, oilseeds, and cotton. Rainfall totaled 25 to 100 mm in nearly all major farming areas, with the highest amounts (greater than 50 mm) concentrated from La Pampa northeastward to southern portions of Chaco and Corrientes," the bulletin summarized.

Crop conditions responded. DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman on Jan. 21 noted in the DTN closing grain market comment some big changes in crop ratings. "Late Thursday, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said 8% of the corn crop was rated poor or very poor, an improvement from 16% last week ... Late Thursday, the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said 10% of the soybean crop was rated poor or very poor, down from 18% the previous week," Hultman said.

Grain market action is also reflecting more confidence in a more stable crop situation in not only Argentina, but also in Brazil. "South American weather and crop prospects turning higher have been at the heart of the selling this week," wrote DTN Contributing Analyst Tregg Cronin in DTN Early Word grain comments Friday. "To change the tenor of our markets, a change in weather is likely needed."

Weather forecast models offer additional showers totaling from 5 to 25 mm (0.25 to 1 inch) over Argentina in the next week and 50 to 150 mm (2 to 6 inches) in central and south-central Brazil, suggesting additional crop moisture benefit. Eastern and northeastern Brazil are drier; however, these areas are relatively minor producers in the total crop scene.

There is still a long way to go in the South America crop season, and La Nina is still a notable event with a 30-day value of 16.78 as of Jan. 22. However, the past two weeks have at least helped South America crops avoid further declines in estimated production.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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