South America Calling

Frost Strikes Argentine Wheat Fields

By Alastair Stewart , South America Correspondent

The mercury fell to upper 20s to middle 30s Fahrenheit on thermometers throughout central Argentina on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, leading farmers to fret over damage to the wheat crop.

And more cold could be on the way with scattered frost on the charts for Thursday morning, according to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson.

The cold weather hit northern Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Santa Fe provinces, where wheat had already been suffering amid dry conditions in August and September.

Much of the crop in these regions is entering the boot, heading and flowering stages of development and therefore is sensitive to cold snaps.

However, Argentina's traditional wheat heartlands in southern and eastern Buenos Aires, where around 50% of the country's crop is planted, were spared.

The dry weather recently prompted the Agriculture Ministry to cut its planted area estimate to 8.4 million acres from 9.6 million acres. The frost may reduce that effective area further, although it remains too early to estimate damage.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture currently forecasts the wheat crop will total 12 million metric tons (mmt), up from 10 mmt last year. These numbers may also be lowered due to the adverse weather conditions.

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