El Nino's shadow looms over Argentina’s corn and wheat planting

08 September 20232 min reading

As the world watches the atmospheric phenomenon known as El Nino, its impending effects on Argentina's agricultural landscape are drawing concern. With the anticipation of heavy rainfall arriving in October, experts speculate that this weather pattern could disrupt the corn planting season in certain regions of the country.

After a challenging period marked by a debilitating drought during the 2022/23 season, many key corn-growing areas in Argentina are grappling with parched soil and insufficient moisture levels. As farmers gear up to commence planting for the 2023/24 season in September, the looming question is whether the much-needed water will arrive in time.

The Rosario Stock Exchange (BCR) shed light on the situation, highlighting that while previous occurrences of El Nino brought more pronounced impacts, current forecasts point to a milder influence. This tempered outlook, however, does not diminish the pressing concern that rains might only make their presence felt from October onward.

An early estimation by the BCR pegged the projected corn harvest for the 2023/24 season at 56 million tons. However, this optimism rests upon the assumption of timely and sufficient rainfall. The challenge lies in the fact that many farmers might be compelled to either delay their planting schedules or, in some unfortunate cases, entirely abandon their plans if water remains elusive. The BCR underscored this predicament, observing that the prospects of adding around 300,000 hectares to the corn cultivation landscape are waning due to the prevailing water scarcity. The BCR's calculation of the 2023/24 corn area hovers around 8.5 million hectares.

In tandem with the corn industry, the wheat sector also faces its share of adversities. The Buenos Aires grains exchange offered insights into the wheat crops for the forthcoming 2023/24 season. The exchange's analysis painted a picture of "restrictive humidity conditions" impacting the central and northern reaches of Argentina's agricultural expanse. Oscillating temperatures continue to exacerbate the situation, leading to compromised crop conditions and losses in reproductive structures. The exchange maintained its wheat harvest prediction at 15.6 million tons, reflecting a planted area of approximately 5.4 million hectares.

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