Argentina corn production up in the air

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With tight U.S. corn supplies, many global importers are looking to South America to produce a good crop to help bridge the gap and keep prices in check, according to the U.S. Grains Council.

In Argentina, excessive rainfall delayed planting and put some corn under water. While there may be fewer hectares planted to corn overall, yield potential is still high and may overcome a drop in plantings to produce a good crop. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates Argentina will produce 28 million tons of corn and according to Alfredo Navarro, a consultant for the Council based in Brazil, it is still feasible, although it is a bit early for a definite forecast. USDA estimates exports from the country may reach 18.5 million tons.

In early November, the president of the Argentine corn grower association (Maizar) said output in the country may drop to 26 million to 27 million tons. Others say the crop estimate could drop by 20 percent. Whether the Argentine crop holds at 28 million tons as USDA projects or is actually smaller, there is a reasonable chance production will still pass the country's previous record of 24 million tons produced in 2010-11 and considerably more than the 21 million tons harvested in the drought year of 2011-12.

Grain traders and analysts in the United States will keep a close eye on the South American crop as it develops. "On the supply side, the progress of the South American crops will be most important for the next three months," said Darrel Good, an agriculture economist with the University of Illinois. Although weather conditions have improved and some still argue corn production potential has already been reduced in Argentina, for the near term, Good said grain markets will likely continue to reflect expectations of very large crops from both Argentina and Brazil.


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