May 25, 2016 / 6:35 PM / in 3 years

Argentina seen losing 4 mln to 8 mln tonnes of soy due to floods

BUENOS AIRES, May 25 (Reuters) - Flooding in Argentina has cut into the country’s expected soybean output by 4 million to 8 million tonnes, even as higher-than-expected yields in dryer areas offset some of the losses, local farm analysts said on Wednesday.

Chicago Board of Trade soymeal futures have surged 51 percent since early April, hitting their highest since November 2014 as concerns about the Argentine floods mounted.

Crop estimates now range from 52 million to 56.5 million tonnes. With harvesting slowed by record rains in northern parts of the soy belt, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange has cut its harvest forecast to 56 million tonnes from 60 million. Either way output would be less than last season’s 60.8 million tonnes.

Higher yields in Buenos Aires and La Pampa provinces, which have avoided flooding, may prompt the exchange to hold its 56 million-tonne harvest estimate steady when it publishes its weekly report on Thursday.

But analyst Pablo Adreani, of the Buenos Aires-based AgriPAC consultancy, said flood losses far outweigh gains expected in better-yielding areas.

“We’ve lost 8 million tonnes of production in the floods,” Adreani said. “Yields in Buenos Aires are good, but not good enough for the climatic disaster we had in Entre Rios, Cordoba and Santa Fe provinces.”

Those areas were lashed by record storms in the first three weeks of April. Adreani said 70 percent of the 2015/16 crop has been collected, versus 90 percent at this point last season.

U.S. soybean meal futures climbed to 18-month highs on Friday as short-covering and concerns about tightening exports from Argentina helped to fuel gains.

The country is the world’s top shipper of the livestock feed and the No. 3 supplier of raw soybeans.

“The situation is pretty complicated because there’s too much water on the ground in southern Cordoba, Santa Fe and especially Entre Rios provinces. There are huge delays in harvesting,” said Leandro Pierbattisti, an analyst with the country’s grains warehousing industry chamber.

“The 56 million tonne estimated from the grains exchange is realistic, and it could even be worse depending on weather conditions over the next weeks,” he added.

The Rosario grains exchange this month lowered its forecast for the 2015-16 soy harvest to 55 million tonnes from a prior projection of 59 million tonnes. The government said some 1.2 million hectares will not be harvested due to the rains, leading to losses of almost 6 million tonnes of production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cut its Argentine production forecast by 2.5 million tonnes to 56.5 million.

Editing by Alan Crosby

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