Argentine soybean and corn crops are in need of rain as soil moisture reserves dwindle.
The good news is that weather charts do show showers for the next week.
Early planted soybeans and corn in many key-producing regions are suffering amid dry conditions and very high temperatures, which have caused moisture levels to fall to the limits of crop sustainability in the worst-hit areas, said the Rosario Cereals Exchange.
As a result, early beans are starting to show stress and will begin losing yield potential soon, while early corn has already had its potential cut by up to 30% in some cases, it said in a weekly report.
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Most of the area known as the nucleus, which covers northern Buenos Aires province, southern Cordoba, southern Santa Fe, as well as parts of Entre Rios and La Pampa, has been affected, but the worst-hit areas are southern Santa Fe and northwestern Buenos Aires.
Crops in dry areas are suffering from insect attacks, the exchange added.
The dry weather prompted to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange to lower its 2013-14 soybean area forecast by 250,000 acres to 50.3 million acres this week. Farmers weren't able to plant in late December because of dry conditions, it explained.
The latest dry spell has not been extended, only lasting seven to 10 days in most areas, but it came close on the heels of a dry December.
While the nucleus has been suffering, northern regions have seen a welcome return of rains, allowing farmers there to finish soybean planting. Argentina-wide soybean planting is 96.2% complete.
However, relief is on the way in the form of a cold front, which will bring showers. The precipitation is not expected to be heavy or uniform, but will ease the immediate stress. The front will be followed by a cold air system, which will lower temperatures, said the Buenos Aires exchange.
According to CCA, a local analytics firm, parts of Buenos Aires province need up to 4 3/4 inches to correct the current soil moisture deficit, which won't be supplied by the front that is arriving.
However, according to INTA, the Argentine Agricultural Technology Institute, longer-term forecasts indicate continued rainfall during January, although the showers will vary greatly in intensity.
Alastair Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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