Argentine farmers are finishing this year's wheat sowing, helped by moist soils and cold weather that is prolonging the vegetative stage of crops, raising hopes of high yields and a record harvest, growers and analysts said on Wednesday. Cold Southern Hemisphere winter weather allows seedlings to grow more sprigs per plant. Harvesting starts in November.
A bumper crop would come at a time of shrinking global supplies, with bad weather hurting crops in exporting regions like Europe, Australia, Canada and the Black Sea. The dire global harvest outlook lifted benchmark Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures to three-year peaks this week.
High international prices are giving Argentine farmers a big incentive to grow wheat, Gustavo Lopez, head of consulting firm Agritrend on Wednesday.
The planting season went very well. Ground moisture is good and the crop is developing nicely, said Lopez, who estimates the 2018/19 wheat crop at 19.5 million to 20 million tons. Growers rushed to sow wheat in the moist conditions left by rainstorms that helped destroy Argentina's recently-harvested soybean crop.
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange has a preliminary wheat harvest estimate of 19 million tons, also above what it says is the current record of 17.75 million tons. Exchange analysts say they may increase the harvest estimate and that a good wheat
crop should help finance an expansion of October soy planting.
Apparently farmers have already started fertilizing the fields planned for soy and corn, to build up phosphorous levels in the soil.
Last season's soy crop was hobbled by a four-month drought that gave way in April to torrential rains that made it impossible to harvest fields in low-lying areas that just days
earlier had been gasping for water. On the positive side, the rain left ample soil moisture, which was great for wheat sowing.
The Rosario grains exchange forecasts a 20 million ton wheat harvest. It estimates this season's wheat exports at a record 13.5 million tons, most slated for Brazil. The wheat season of coming along very well, said Emilce Terre, head analyst at the Rosario exchange.