Rain slows Argentine corn sowing, soy starts soon

Mon Oct 15, 2012 12:08pm EDT

By Hugh Bronstein
    BUENOS AIRES, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Rains that have slowed
Argentine corn sowing are expected to give way to sunshine by
midweek, also setting the stage for easy planting of the
country's key soy crop, climate experts in the grains-exporting
powerhouse said on Monday.
    Consumer nations hope the South American country will step
in with ample corn, soy and wheat supplies to help soften prices
squeezed higher this year by dry crop weather in heavyweight
producers, including the United States, Russia and Australia.
    "The rain this week will be concentrated on Monday and
Tuesday, and will continue, temporarily slowing corn planting in
the province of Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, and part of Santa Fe,"
said Jose Luis Aiello, head of the Applied Climatology
consultancy.
    The areas at the heart of the Pampas farm belt - measuring
wider than the size of France - are being counted on to help
satisfy world food demand expected by the United Nations to
double by 2050.
    The early-week storms should give way to four or five days
of sun, helping farmers drain over-soaked fields and setting the
stage for easy planting soy over the days ahead, Aiello added.
    Low world stocks have pushed benchmark Chicago soy prices 25
percent higher this year, with corn up 15 percent and wheat
jumping a whopping 30 percent. Global investment funds are
increasingly interested in the sector as global food demand
rises.
    Tomas Parenti, an agronomist at the Rosario grains exchange,
said the delays seen in 2012/13 corn sowing are temporary and
that it is too early in the season to fret about an excess of
moisture hobbling soy planting.
    "The net effect of all this water has been positive so far.
Better too much rain than not enough. Of course that's hard to
tell a farmer whose fields are flooded," Parenti added.
    Argentina is the world's No. 2 corn exporter and the third
biggest soybean supplier. It is also the No. 1 provider of
soyoil, used to make biofuels, and soymeal, employed as cattle
feed as far away as China, where the fast-emerging middle class
is clamoring for beef steak.
            
     
  
    Argentina's 2012/13 wheat is in its early harvesting stages.
Crops are threatened in some low-lying areas of bread basket
province Buenos Aires, where plants have started turning yellow
while their roots gasp for oxygen. The sunshine expected later
this week should help dry those inundated areas.
    Looking further ahead, the El Nino phenomenon is expected to
dump unusually high amounts of rain on the Southern Cone before
the end of the year, when growers will again have to look out
for flooding.
    The flow of grains from Argentina is also of interest to
exporters such as Bunge Ltd and Noble Group Ltd
, which operate gigantic terminals along the Parana
River, leading to the shipping lanes of the South Atlantic.
    The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange expects 2012/13 Argentine
wheat production at 10.12 million tonnes, down 28 percent from
last year, while the area seeded with commercial-use corn is
seen falling 12 percent in 2012/13 from the previous season.
    Farmers have shied away from both crops due to
government-imposed export curbs that do not apply to Argentine
soy. Local soybean harvest estimates for the 2012/13 season will
come after planting starts.
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