Rains in Argentina boost expectations for good soy, corn crops

BUENOS AIRES, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Showers on Argentina’s Pampas grains belt in recent weeks have helped make up for the dryness that parched soy and corn crops from the middle of last year, weather experts said on Monday.

Farmers are now hoping for enough rain to boost yields after the country’s two main cash crops were hit by an unusual lack of precipitation before a resurgence of wet weather in January.

“Showers during the last fortnight of January and all of February reversed a situation that could have been dramatic if it had not rained,” said Pablo Adreani of consultancy Pablo Adreani and Associates.

“These rains stopped losses and improved the state and condition of crops, and improved yields.”

He said he expects Argentine growers to bring in 50 million tonnes of soy and 51 million tonnes of corn this season. The Rosario grain exchange this month raised its soy and corn crop estimates to 49 million tonnes and 48.5 million tonnes, respectively, citing the better rainfall.

“In general terms, soy plantings are in good condition and benefited from the rains in late January and early February, However, in some regions like western Buenos Aires and La Pampa provinces, more water is needed to improve moisture reserves,” the Agriculture Ministry said in a report on Thursday.

Argentina is the world’s No. 3 corn exporter and the top supplier of soymeal livestock feed used to fatten hogs and poultry from Europe to Southeast Asia. Argentine corn sowing starts in September, with harvesting through July. Soy planting starts in October and November with the harvest ending in May.

Parts of the bread-basket province of Buenos Aires were pelted by storms on Monday after several days of dryness.

“The supply of water earlier in February and what is happening now is not expected to change the outlook. But if normal rainfall is achieved in the central agricultural zone, the season will be a success,” said German Heinzenknecht, weather expert with local consultancy Applied Climatology.

He said he expects improved rainfall in mid-March.

“Areas that failed to get good rains in late January and early February have not achieved good yields," he added.

The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange forecasts Argentine corn and soy crops of 46 million tonnes each in the 2020/21 season.

(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Maximilian Heath. Editing by Kirsten Donovan.)

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