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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

24 September 2009

Argentina: prolonged drought has affected grain production
and will reduce export surplus

During July, localized heavy rains in central and southern Buenos Aires left most of the other provinces almost completely dry. Additionally, below average temperatures, which pertained until mid-August in southern farming areas, were recorded throughout the country. Negative crop development anomalies have appeared in the NDVI(Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) since the very beginning of the winter cropping season (May 2009).

During the last weeks of August, the green light wasgiven for the planting of the 2010 maize crop campaign in the Santa Fe province, and sowing is expected to start in September in the rest of the country. Maize producers are facing a water shortage, lack of financial liquidity, as an effect of low yields obtained in the last campaign, and low cereal market prices; planted area with maize is thus expected to decrease to 1.8 million hectares. Consequently, for rented fields is likely that farmers will opt to plant more profitable cash crops such as soybeans instead of rotating crops.

On the other hand, so wing of 2009 wheat cropping season is completed. The area sowed withwheat increased marginally compared to last forecast exceeding 2.8 million hectares. In spite of this, the total acreage still remains well below the 4.2 million hectares planted in 2008. With the exception of Entre Rios province, the Buenos Aires region, which alone accounts for more than 40 percent of the country’s wheat production and some other localized areas, planted area was severely reduced. A decline in cultivated land above 70 percent was reported in northern and central Cordoba and northern and central Santa Fe.

Given the low expected wheat output for the current season, production surplus is likely to be severely reduced. In the 2009/2010 marketing year between 1.5 and 2 millions tonnes of wheat will be available for export compared to 3.8 millions tonnes in 2008 and more than 10 millions tonnes in 2007.

Although it might be late for boosting wheat production, the maize area could still be increased by the Government’s lifting of export taxes on wheat and maize for small and medium-scale growers.

Sources: Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Pesca y Alimentos
Bolsa de Cereales