Rains ease Argentina farmland dryness, but more needed
BUENOS AIRES |
BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Weekend rains brought much-needed moisture to farming areas in Argentina, but growers in the corn belt urgently need more rainfall in order to press on with plantings, a weather forecaster said on Monday.
If severe dryness persists, many farmers could shelve plans to seed corn and sow soy instead when the planting season for the oilseed starts in October.
"There were rains over the weekend, and a good amount of water in central and southeastern areas of Buenos Aires province. But it rained less than expected in western parts (of Buenos Aires)," said German Heinzenknecht, a meteorologist at the Applied Climatology Consultancy in Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires is the province that produces the most soy and corn, followed by Cordoba and Santa Fe.
"Most of the west and south of Cordoba are bad (dry). There's a strip of land that covers south Santa Fe, northeast Buenos Aires and northern La Pampa. That's the critical area at the moment. It hasn't rained there," Heinzenknecht said.
He said many farmers could wait to plant corn late in the season or eventually opt to plant soybeans instead, betting on improved soil moisture later in the year.
Argentina is the world's No. 3 exporter of soybeans and the leading supplier of soyoil and soymeal.
The government has not yet forecast 2011/12 corn planting area but many industry analysts expect an increase from last season when the country produced an estimated 22 million tonnes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange sees the commercial-use corn area up 9 percent to 3.5 million hectares, while Rosario grains exchange estimates a 10 percent jump in plantings.
The lack of rain is also stressing wheat crops in Argentina, a leading supplier of the grain, especially to neighboring Brazil.
"People who planted wheat in Cordoba have bad prospects. Cordoba needs more than 100 milliliters of water, and reaching that level will be difficult," Heinzenknecht said, adding that it could rain soon in southeastern parts of the Buenos Aires province, but not in other areas badly affected by dryness.
(Reporting by Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Eduardo Garcia; Editing by John Picinich)
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