The most recent prediction for the soybean harvest is that it will include 19.3m hectares and generate production in the region of 55m tons, said Lazaro Sandoval, an agricultural attaché with the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service in a report earlier this week.
Although there were indications of crop damage and greater losses in some regions of Argentina, it is expected that these areas have recovered, particularly in Nucleo Sur, south Cordoba and central-east Entre Rios, said Sandoval.
Additionally, improved yields are predicted to offset some of the area loss.
“In south Buenos Aires province, first crop soybean yields are expected to be around 2.4 tons per hectare for the southeast section of the province and 1.8 tons for the southwest,” he said. “Towards the western part of Buenos Aires province (Bolivar and Pehaujo), first crop soybean yields are averaging 2.8 tons per hectare and 1.2 tons for second crop soybeans.”
The average national yield is predicted to be 2.85 tons per hectare, said Sandoval. Yields of more than three tons per hectare are expected in areas including Rojas and Pergamino and they are thought to be up to four tons per hectare for first crop soybeans in Alberti, Chivilcoy, Suipacha and Mercedes.
However, challenges from weeds and pests have made production more expensive, and may be increasing costs by up to 10 to 15% in some regions, said the attaché. Rent prices have also increased slightly.
“Producers see crop rotation as the best tool against this resistance,” he said. “As such, some crop advisors and analysts have begun to speculate that due, in part, to this resistance (along with a host of market factors) soybean area will decline again in the 2017/18 season.”
Wheat, barley, sorghum
The wheat crop is expected to be about 15m tons, with local predictions of yield at 3.26 tons per hectare, he said. “Despite higher-than-normal yields, on average the quality of the wheat in Argentina was far better than in the past two crop seasons, primarily as a result of the use of very good technology,” he added.
Barley expectations remained at 3.15m tons, with estimated average yield of 3.87 tons per hectare, said the attaché. However, exports for 2016/17 are predicted to be down to 1.2m tons.
“Local traders indicate that the world market is well supplied with barley and other feed grains, and local barley price are not very competitive as the quality has been good and farmers are quite reluctant to sell,” he said.
Sorghum crops are expected to be about 3.4m tons, an amount below USDA’s original estimate, said the attaché.
“Post continues to forecast exports for the 2016/17 at 600,000 tons, 300,000 tons lower than USDA,” he said. “Local traders indicate that the demand for Argentine sorghum is slow. Potential sales are to Japan and Chile.”
Domestic use has been increased by 2.5m tons for 2015/16, and is predicted to remain strong through March, he said. “Current strong domestic demand for feed grains have made corn prices very high, making end users try to shift to more inexpensive feed alternatives,” he added.
Corn production was not lowered by challenging weather conditions, and remains at about 36.5m tons, said the attaché. But, area harvested was reduced by 50,000 hectares.
“The losses in area (which need to be confirmed in a future report) are expected to be offset by higher yields than earlier expected,” he said. “The rainy condition (and cool nights) of this past month, which normally is hot and dry, have promoted strong plant development. Plantings in areas which were not affected by floods are in very good conditions.”