Thumbs up for Argentina's crop conditions
Despite a lashing of heavy showers over the past three months, Argentina's crop conditions are generally good across much of the farm belt, with the stage set for record corn and soybean production.
The rains have delayed planting but the crops are in very good condition in the areas that aren't flooded, Agriculture Secretary Lorenzo Basso said Tuesday.
The wetness will lead to more fungal diseases, but the country's farmers have the technology to handle that, Mr. Basso said.
Luis Zubizarreta, vice president of the soybean association Acsoja, agrees. Despite some flooding problems, moisture levels are good and helpful showers have hit the northern soybean fields recently,
The crop is unlikely to reach 60 million tons, but most forecasts are calling for a record 55 million tons, Mr. Zubizarreta said.
Despite the slow start to planting, high prices and wet weather leading to expectations of bumper soy and corn crops.
So far, farmers have seeded 54% of the 19.7 million hectares expected to go to soybeans this season, down 15 percentage points on the year, according to the Buenos Aires Exchange.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expecting Argentina to grow a record 55 million metric tons of soybeans, up from the previous record of 52.7 million tons set during the 2009-10 season.
Argentina is the world's No. 3 soybean exporter behind Brazil and the U.S. and is the world's leading exporter of soyoil and soymeal. Global soybean markets are counting on bumper crops from South America this season to make up for the heavy drought losses suffered by the U.S. crop.
Despite the high prices, most of Argentina's farmers are holding off and plan to wait until later in the season to sell their crops, Mr. Zubizarreta said. The bulk of Argentina's soybean harvest is wrapped up in April and May.
Meanwhile, 55% of the 3.4 million hectares expected to go to corn this season have been planted, down 14 percentage points on the year, according to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.
Early on, expectations had been for a record 28 million tons of 2012-13 corn production, but output is now likely to be 26 million to 27 million tons because of the planting delay, according to the corn growers association Maizar.
That will still top Argentina's previous corn record of 24 million tons during the 2010-11 season and is up sharply from the 21 million tons harvested during the drought-ravaged 2011-12 season.
Write to Shane Romig at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 12, 2012 08:08 ET (13:08 GMT)