March 18, 2004


Argentina 2003-04 Corn Output Seen At 12.4 Million MT
The Argentina Agriculture Secretariat raised its estimate for production of 2003-04 corn to 12.4 million tons, up from 12.1 million a month ago.
The Secretariat also raised its estimate for planted area to 2.88 million hectares, up a bit from 2.865 million last month.
This latest estimate implies a decline in area of about 6.6% from a year ago, when Argentina produced 15 million tons of corn.
"The greatest declines in planted area occurred in the provinces of Cordoba and La Pampa and resulted of a lack of rain," the Secretariat said.
Of the 2.88 million hectares planted, around 2.1 million will be dedicated to commercial corn and the rest will be used for animal feed, according to the Secretariat.
The USDA has forecast 2003-04 production at 12.5 million tons and the cereals exchange has estimated output at 12.8 million tons.
Argentina was the world's No. 2 corn exporter in 2002.
The country lost this ranking to China in 2003, but local analysts and the USDA believe lower Chinese exports in 2004 will push Argentina back into the No. 2 position this year.
As of last week, farmers had harvested 16% of the 2003-04 crop, according to the Secretariat.
Finally, the Secretariat left unchanged its previous estimate for the 2003-04 sunseed harvest, which put production at 3.4 million tons.
Accordingly, the Secretariat said the 2003-04 sunseed area will drop 20% from a year ago. Area is seen at 1.9 million hectares, down from 2.06 million the previous year.
Argentina's long drought and associated dry weather in late 2003 hindered expectations for the crop, which is planted between September and December.
As of last week, farmers had harvested 36% of the 2003-04 crop.
Argentina produced 3.7 million metric tons of sunseed in 2002-03, according to Secretariat data.
The USDA has said Argentina will produce 3 million tons of sunseed in 2003-04 while the cereals exchange has forecast a similar amount.

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