Rains slow Argentine sowings, while Brazil thrives

The split fortunes of farmers in South America's top crop producing countries was underlined when Brazil held forecasts for a record soybean crop, while Argentina's rain-tested farmers were shown falling further behind in sowings.

Argentine growers are lagging last year's soybean sowing pace by an area the size of Belgium.

Conab, the Brazilian crop bureau, narrowed its forecast for the domestic soybean harvest in 2012-13 to 82.6m tonnes, towards the top of the range of 80.1m-83m tonnes previously guided to, and representing a jump of more than 20% year on year.

"The climate framework is favourable in all producing regions of the country," Conab said, , dismissing fears over November dryness in southern areas, after recent rains.

The figure compares with an estimate of 80.5m tonnes from the International Grains Council and 81.0m tonnes from the US Department of Agriculture, with FCStone's Brazilian office earlier this week pegging the crop at 80.0m tonnes.

'Losing space to soy'

Soybean prospects were also gaining some boost from a switch by farmers to the oilseed from main-crop corn, which is earlier-sown, and tends to be the second choice for South American growers.

"Corn is losing space to soy in all states where there is a competition for area," Conab said.

Nonetheless, the Brazilian corn crop was pegged at a 71.9m tonnes, within the range of 71.6m-72.9m tonnes previously forecast, and representing a drop of less than 2% year on year.

The USDA has the crop at 70.0m tonnes, and the IGC at 71.0m tonnes.

'Paralysed machinery'

However, data from the Buenos Aires grains exchange showed Argentina's farmers continuing to battle with wet weather, with both corn and soybean plantings falling further behind last year's pace, "due to interruptions caused by continuous rains".

Soybean seedings progressed by 8.7 points week on week to 53.9% completion – a delay of 15 points year on year, and equivalent to about 3.0m hectares. A week ago, the delay was 11 points.

"The provinces of Santa Fe and Entre Rios received strong volumes of rainfall," the exchange said, with planters "paralysed" in western Buenos Aires province and La Pampa "as a result of the volume of water received".

In south eastern Córdoba "there were several hectares swamped as a result of heavy rainfall accumulated over recent weeks".

Corn delay

For corn, growers sowed some 2.7% of their crop during the latest week, meaning plantings are now 55.1% completed.

However, this left sowers 14 points behind the pace, equivalent to some 480,000 hectares, and up from a delay of 12.4% a week ago.

The exchange flagged that much of what had been planted was in very good condition, "having not suffered water limitations during the crop cycle".

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