May 28, 2012


Argentina's 2011-12 soy crop estimates down to 39.9 million tonnes



The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange on Thursday (May 24) has been prompted to lower its forecast for Argentina's 2011-12 soy crop to 39.9 million tonnes from a previous estimate of 41 million tonnes due to drought and then flooding in the crop areas.


It also cut the country's 2011-12 corn crop estimate to 19.3 million tonnes from a previous estimate of 19.8 million, the exchange said in its weekly report. Those estimates are smaller than the Argentine's government's latest forecasts.


Argentina is the world's top provider of soyoil and meal and the second-biggest corn exporter after the US. The South American country is also the world's No. three soy exporter.


Its Pampas farm belt was parched by drought at the height of the Southern Hemisphere summer in December and January.


Yields were then further reduced by flooding in the key grains province Buenos Aires. The floods made harvesting impossible in some parts of the province, where crops were left to rot.


"In western and central Buenos Aires we are talking about 160,000 hectares lost to flooding, which accounts for 30% of the area yet to be harvested in the province," exchange analyst Esteban Copati said.


The government has projected Argentina's 2011-12 soy output would fall 15% to 42.9 million tonnes from last season's 48.9 million tonnes.


For corn production, the government last week trimmed its 2011-12 outlook to 20.1 million tonnes from an earlier estimate of 20.3 million tonnes. This would represent a nearly 13% drop from the 2010-11 crop year.


In its first 2012-13 wheat area forecast, the Agriculture Ministry last week projected that four million hectares (9.9 million acres) of wheat will be planted, down from 4.63 million hectares last season. The projection matches that of the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange.


Argentine farmers will plant less wheat this year and sow other crops in order to skirt government export curbs that are hobbling investment in the sector, industry group ArgenTrigo said this month.


Reforms to the country's export rules have failed to revive interest among wheat growers while worries mount that faltering quality is costing the world's sixth biggest wheat exporter its competitiveness. Algeria rejected an offer of Argentina wheat last month.


This has added pressure to an economy already slowing under the weight of Europe's debt crisis and lower demand from key trade partner Brazil. But President Cristina Fernandez remains popular for her push to increase the state's role in the markets. Her export curbs have helped ensure ample food supplies for domestic consumers.

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