Argentine rains to end, boosting grain, soy hopes

Argentina is to see an end to the persistent rains which have slowed fieldwork and threatened crop quality, improving hopes of decent corn and soybean harvests, and for a marked uptick in wheat sowings too.

Rains have slowed harvests to among their slowest in recent history, with farmers having 33.1% of corn in the barn, 17.4 points behind the average pace, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said.

For soybeans, the harvest is 69.9% complete, 23.1 points behind the average, decelerating rapidly this month, with less than 600,000 hectares reaped in the last week, out of a 19.5m hectares expected to be combined overall.

The extent of the slowdown has begun to raise concerns over the harvest, with the exchange reporting that the latest round of "moderate to high rainfall" had begun to raise concerns over the quality of soybeans, "and generate uncertainty about the final yield picture".

In corn, the exchange reported "great concern" among farmers, who had begun to witness "fungal attack" on ears.

'Dry weather bias'

However, forecasts show that "fortunately", major cropping areas should not see rain "for the next few weeks", the exchange said.

Commodity Weather Group said that Argentina "will return to a dry weather bias over the coming week".

Although fieldwork "will be delayed for a while today", it will "resume relatively quickly as fields dry down from recent rain".

Weather service MDA said that rains "should now become quite limited through the next week, which allow remaining harvesting to finish up".

Corn upgrade

The comments came as Argentina's farm ministry, citing "excellent" crop condition in some northern areas, raised by 1.3m tonnes to 31.1m tonnes its forecast for the country's ongoing corn harvest, above forecasts from other commentators.

The US Department of Agriculture and the Buenos Aires grains exchange, for instance, peg the crop at 24.0m tonnes, while Lanworth forecasts a 25.1m-tonne harvest.

The ministry kept at 54.0m tonnes its forecasts for the soybean harvest, saying that strong results from some northern areas were offsetting concerns elsewhere.

Wheat forecasts

The farm ministry also, in its first estimate for wheat sowings for the 2014-15 crop, forecast them at 4.5m hectares, above the 4.3m hectares expected by the Buenos Aires grains exchange, and the 4.1m hectares pencilled by in the SRA producers' group.

Wheat plantings, if still in their early stages, have been running behind average thanks to the wet weather.

The ministry said its estimate reflected price expectations, the boost to soil moisture from the rainfall, a need to rotate crops and "irregular" results from alternative options for planting.

Although many growers have switched to barley in the last two seasons, in frustration at the export controls they believe are depressing return prospects for wheat, yield results have been mixed.

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