November 10, 2008


Argentina soy area seen at 18.1 million hectares



Argentina's Agriculture Secretariat on Friday (November 7) narrowed its estimate for 2008-09 soy area to a record 18.1 million hectares from the 17.8 million to 18.2 million hectares forecast last month.


The surprise forecast came in the Secretariat's weekly crop report. Generally forecasts are only made in the monthly reports scheduled for the third Wednesday of each month.


The forecast area is up from the previous record of 16.6 million hectares planted with soy during the 2007-08 season. The area planted with soy has surged over the past decade, with just 8.4 million hectares going to the beans during the 1998-99 season.


Drought early this season saw wheat area fall sharply and the higher profits with soy relative to corn and sunflower seeds are spurring the shift to soy this season.


So far, farmers have planted 23 percent of the area seen going to soy, the Secretariat said.


The US Department of Agriculture forecasts 2008-09 soy production at 50.5 million tonnes, up from the previous record of 46.2 million tonnes last season.


Argentina's 2007-08 corn crop is generally developing well, although more rainfall is needed in some areas.


As of November 6, farmers had planted 67 percent of the forecast 3.4 million hectares seen going to corn, down from 75 percent at this point last season, according to the Secretariat.


Wheat conditions are mixed, with farmers in some areas turning over fields to pasture when the crop's condition is too poor to warrant harvest.


Early drought left its mark on the crop in many areas and average yields are expected to be low this season.


The Secretariat forecasts wheat output of 9.5 million to 11 million tonnes, down sharply from the 16 million tonnes grown last season.


Farmers have planted 59 percent of the area expected to be sown with sunflower seeds this season, down from 69 percent at this point last year.

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