January 13, 2004



Argentina To Produce At Least 12.3 Million MT Of 2003-04 Corn


Argentina's farmers will likely harvest at least 12.3 million metric tons of 2003-04 corn, the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange forecast in its weekly crops report.


"However, with a very good climate from here on out...the size of the harvest could rise to 12.9 million tons," the exchange said.


The first estimate is based on the assumption that yields will be inline with their historical average over the past five years. The latter assumes that yields could rise 6% over this average.


The exchange did not provide an estimate of yields for 2003-04. However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast yields at 5.3 tons per hectare in 2003-04.


"January and February will be key months for the definition of yields and future climatic conditions will determine what level they will reach," the exchange said.


As of Jan. 10, farmers had planted 97.6% of the 2003-04 corn crop, up from about 94% a week ago, the exchange said. The exchange did not say how the pace of planting compares with that of the previous year.


The exchange estimates planted area of commercially tradable corn at 2.2 million hectares. This is down from 2.4 million hectares a year earlier.


As of Saturday, farmers had planted 2,146,590 million hectares of 2003-04 corn, according to the exchange.


Total planted area, including corn used for feed, will not exceed 2.75 million hectares, the exchange said in a previous report. This would be a decline of 9.8% from the previous year, according to exchange data.


The Agriculture Secretariat expects 2003-04 seeded area to total 2.796 million hectares. In 2002-03, Argentina planted 3.092 million hectares of corn and produced 15 million metric tons of the grain, Secretariat data show.


According to the exchange, Argentina produced 15.25 million tons of corn last year.


The U.S. Department has estimated 2003-04 corn production at 12.5 million tons.




Meanwhile, the exchange said farmers had planted 97% of the 2003-04 soybean crop by Saturday.


This is up from 95.3% a week ago. The exchange did not say how the pace of planting compares with that of the previous year.


Area is seen at a record 13.95 million hectares.


"In general, the condition of first crop soybeans is very good in center- south Santa Fe, Entre Rios and northern Buenos Aires," the exchange said.


Last month, the exchange estimated that 2003-04 soybean production will jump 1.1 million metric tons from a year ago, putting output at about 36.4 million tons. Last year, farmers planted 12.8 million hectares and produced 35.27 million tons of soybeans, according to the exchange.


The USDA estimates 2003-04 soybean production at 36.5 million tons.


Some 13,524,560 hectares had been planted by Saturday.

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