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La Niña Dry Cycle Threatens Argentina’s Corn… Again

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Drought conditions, brought on by a third consecutive La Niña, are raising the risk of lower corn production in Argentina, the world’s third-largest corn exporter. As La Niña has a 76% chance of sticking around through February and a 40% chance of lingering from February through April, the crop’s potential for improvement may be limited. 

Currently, drought readings in Argentina’s main corn-growing provinces are at their third-highest level in nearly 20 years, as seen in this display from Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture. Accumulated precipitation was 41% below the 10-year average from August to mid-November for the country’s corn growing areas, as shown in this Navigator display

Drought has already pulled forecasts for Argentina’s wheat crop down to the lowest level in seven years, cutting Argentina’s wheat export potential by as much as half, as Gro wrote about here

More rainfall is especially needed in Cordoba, Buenos Aires, and Santa Fe, which together account for 75% of Argentina’s total corn production. Forecasts for the next 10 days, however, show very little rain and above-average temperatures in corn regions, as shown by this GFS display in Gro Navigator

In 2021/22, similarly dry growing conditions slashed Argentina’s corn yields by 7.3% year over year, but a double-digit increase in area harvested boosted overall production slightly for the year. Argentina’s early corn, which usually accounts for about 40%-50% of total corn plantings, is planted in September-October and harvested in April and May. A late corn crop is sown in December-January and harvested in June or July. 

Argentina’s corn plantings are currently running far below their normal pace. Some producers, facing the prospect of a third La Niña, might shift more of their planting to the second corn crop, or switch to soybeans, which are typically planted in the November-December period. 

Gro’s Argentina Corn Monitor provides users with valuable information to monitor the crop’s progress in this critical corn producing country, including Gro’s Corn Yield Forecast Model, Drought Index readings, and Argentina Corn Supply and Demand Balance Sheet. The machine-learning Gro Forecast Model, which updates daily down to the district level, will begin making live forecasts around mid-December when the crop becomes established. 

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