Fourteen million hectares are affected by floods in Argentina’s prime farm land provinces and the presence of water jeopardizes the harvest of grains, according to farming sector leaders.
Farming leaders said that soils continue to be affected because of excessive rain and flash floods and they fear that the record crop expected for the 2012-2013 campaign is in danger.
“The last rains in the centre of the country, the main farming region, caused rivers to overflow and left soils in a dire condition to move forward with the sowing of soybeans and corn”, said Luis Etchevere, head of the Rural Society, adding that over 11 million hectares are under water in Buenos Aires province.
Other three million hectares of crops are affected in Santa Fe province. “The ideal dates for sowing have already passed and expectations for a record crop decrease” Etchevere added.
Argentina’s Agriculture Ministry announced in mid-October that 2013 could see a record harvest in crops. Approximately 28 million tons of corn and 58 million tons of soybean, most of which are expected to be exported.
However, “the harvest is in danger” Carlos Garetto, president of Coninagro farming union said.
Argentina is the world's third-largest soybean exporter behind Brazil and the US and the leader in global exports of soy-meal and soy-oil.
Soy futures closed on Friday with gains, pushed by good economic data from China, the world's leading buyer of the oilseed, the Rosario exchange said. But there is also growing concern that a series of heavy storms and planting delays will affect Argentina's soybean crop.
To date, just 4% of the record 19.7 million hectares seen going to soybeans this season have been planted, down nine percentage points from a year earlier, according to the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange.
A brutal drought in the US this year has underpinned high global grain prices, and international markets are counting on record harvests in Argentina and Brazil to rebuild depleted food stocks.
Delays in corn planting are also causing some concerns, but Martin Fraguio, of the corn growers' association Maizar, said that higher yields will offset what is expected to be a small drop in planted area due to the heavy rain.
Maizar is expecting corn production to reach 25 million to 28 million metric tons, up from the 21 million tons harvested during the drought-ravaged 2011-12 season. The previous record of 24 million tons was set in the 2010-11 season, according to the Agriculture Ministry.
The wet conditions are also complicating the winter wheat harvest, which recently kicked off. Some fields are at risk for outbreaks of fungus and other crop diseases, but conditions are very good in most areas, according to the Buenos Aires exchange.
The exchange forecasts 2012-13 wheat production of 10.12 million metric tons, down from the 13.2 million tons the government estimates was grown last season.