South America Calling

Floods Threaten Argentine Wheat Crop

Heavy rains during the last two weeks have caused flooding across central parts of Argentina's wheat belt.

Parts of eastern and northern Buenos Aires province, central and southern Santa Fe and bits of Entre Rios bore the brunt with precipitation of up to 12 inches falling in the first 10 days of the month, Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said.

The worst hit areas cover about 8% of the 9.1 million acres planted this season, the exchange estimates.

The level of losses depends on the amount of time acres are under water. With further rains expected this weekend, farmers are extremely nervous.

According to the Rosario Cereals Exchange, if rains ease over the next 15 days, lost areas will be limited to low-lying areas, but the loss of nutrients will limit yield potential across the areas affected.

August is a typically dry month but rain clouds came in from the Atlantic, breaking through an atmospheric barrier. Unseasonable rains at this time of year are often linked to El Nino activity.

The negative impact is partially offset by the fact that milder rains were beneficial in center-north Cordoba and southwestern Buenos Aires and the northern states, where water table levels were lower.

The heavy rains mean farmers in parts of the central grain belt will also have to think carefully about planting summer crop on low-lying land.

Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange forecasts wheat area declined 16% in 2015-16, while the Rosario Cereals Exchange sees an even bigger drop of 28% to 8.3 million acres.

(ES)

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