We had to prepare for the worst scenario of the last 20 years in this grain campaign and that is what we are seeing,” Cristian Russo, head of estimates at the Rosario grains exchange, said.
Russo said soil moisture levels were worse than the 2008/09 campaign, when the South American country produced only 31 million tonnes of soybeans, from 18 million hectares planted.
The exchange estimates a 2022/23 soybean crop of 48 million tonnes, but that figure is likely to be cut as drought delays planting and makes some areas of land unusable.
The outlook for corn, currently being planted, is also uncertain. “If it doesn’t rain or normalize now in December … the number of hectares that are going to be planted is definitely going to be very low,” farmer Bastanchuri said.
FORECAST: NO MAJOR RAINS
In Navarro, residents can walk across the 150-hectare local lagoon amid remains of shells and dead fish. With little rain forecast and high temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere summer, it is unlikely to refill any time soon.
The forecast of the National Meteorological Service for the December 2022-February 2023 period is for lower than usual rains in most of the agricultural core, which includes the north of Buenos Aires province and the south of Santa Fe.
“There is a high probability of having very extreme maximum temperatures and very high minimum temperatures. Both are very high, that is it’s going to be very hot,” said climatologist and researcher Matilde Rusticucci.
The Rosario grains exchange said in the next few days there would be some rain in the areas most in need, between 10 and 15 millimeters, but not nearly enough.
“It is not the important rains that we need,” Russo said, adding a comparison with a drought in 2008/09 when major rains had come at the end of the year. This year, he said, looked worse.
Russo said that the current wheat crop forecast of 11.8 million tonnes, already slashed from an original 19 million tonnes, could be trimmed further. In 2008/09 the wheat harvest was 8.3 million tonnes.
“We are at a point where things look really very complex,” he said.