South America Calling

Lack of Rain in Heart of Argentine Grain Belt

By Alastair Stewart

A lack of rain in the heart of the Argentine grain belt over the past month has caused some concern.

If abundant precipitation doesn't arrive across northern and central Buenos Aires in the next couple of weeks, losses could start being registered, analysts say.

Temperatures have been high across the grain belt in January, stressing soybean and corn plants.

"We have gone through a climatic pause in January," said Eduardo Sierra, a local climatologist at the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.

The weather represents a turnaround from the heavy rains experienced in November and December as the El Nino weather phenomenon cast its influence.

But beyond this region, the crop continues to look good, with soil moisture levels sufficient in the south of the grain belt and excessive still further north in Cordoba and in the west across La Pampa.

"Basically, so far so good. The crops have potential," said David Hughes of Traulenco, which manages 15,000 acres of grain land, mainly in Buenos Aires.

He noted that Argentine soybeans and second-crop corn are entering the defining period of their development now and rains would be welcome.

According to the exchange, moderate rains are forecast from the second half of next week.

Argentina's soybean crop is 100% planted and in good shape, reported the Buenos Aires Exchange Thursday. As a result, it maintained its crop forecast of 58 million metric tons, down 4.6% on last year.

The corn crop is 95% planted with productive potential promising but still undefined.

(CZ)

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