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December 13, 2016

Argentina Planting still Behind Average, Dryness Worries

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Argentina Soybeans - Farmers made good progress with their soybean planting last week putting in 11.6% of the crop. The soybean crop in Argentina is now 58% planted compared to an average of 64%. In the core production areas, the soybeans are 85% planted with only the double crop soybeans left to plant. In southern Argentina, the soybeans are 25% to 70% planted while in northern Argentina the soybeans are 5% to 40% planted.

The soybean planting pace continues to behind the average pace. The weather this week in Argentina is expected to be dry once again, which is both good and bad. It is good in a sense that farmers can continue planting if there is sufficient soil moisture. It is bad for farmers who are lacking sufficient soil moisture especially for the double crop soybeans. Usually, about 95% of the soybeans in Argentina are planted by the first or second week of January, but it remains to be seen if farmers in Argentina will be able to achieve that goal.

This week is expected to be dry in Argentina with the exception of a few light and scattered showers across central Argentina. Certainly these light showers will not alter the drying pattern in Argentina. The temperatures are expected to heat up during the second half of this week. There are better showers in the 6-10 day forecast for most of Argentina.

Although I do not think there has been any permanent damage done to the soybean crop in Argentina, I would "guestimate" that as much as 50% of the soybeans in Argentina could be at risk for significant moisture stress if the current weather pattern persists. The area of Argentina probably most compromised by the dryer weather thus far is southeastern Buenos Aires province.

Some moisture stress is already appearing in the dryer areas and if the forecasted rains for next week fail to develop, the situation could deteriorate very quickly.

Argentina Corn - The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange indicated that 48% of the corn had been planted as of late last week. In the core production regions, the corn is 87% to 90% planted with 60% to 80% planted in southern Argentina and 7% to 25% planted in northern Argentina.

Farmers are now starting to plant their second phase of corn planting with corn planting advancing 4.8% last week. That was the highest weekly total for corn planting in about a month and a half. I realize that they plant corn late in Argentina, but this year the planting is later than usual with some areas registering a historical slow planting.

That means that about 50% of Argentina's corn will be planed after the middle of December. If a dryer than normal weather pattern persists in Argentina for the second half of December and the first half of January, I think some of the intended corn acreage in Argentina may not get planted. It is too early to say that for sure, but my guess is that maybe 250,000 hectares of corn may not get planted. If some of the corn does not get planted, it would probably be switched to soybeans instead,

Therefore, it is possible that the corn acreage may end up smaller than originally anticipated, but I think a bigger concern for the corn would be potential yield damage from the forecasted dryer than normal weather during December-January-February. Approximately 25% to 30% of the corn in Argentina will pollinate sometime during December, with the majority during the second half of the month. The corn that is going to be planted during December and early January will be pollinating during late February and early March, so the weather in Argentina could impact the corn crop the next three months.