ARGENTINA- Substantial rains in recent days in major Argentine agricultural areas have improved the outlook for the South-American country’s 2023-24 wheat crop, Reuters reported, citing the Buenos Aires grains exchange.

After a severe drought devastated Argentina’s 2022/23 corn and soybean crops, continuing dry conditions could have threatened to set back the planting of the country’s 2023/24 winter wheat crop.

Therefore, the recent heavy rainfall arrived at a critical time since Argentina’s farmers start planting wheat in the coming days. The total crop is estimated at 18 million tonnes, up from the 12.4 million tonnes harvested in the previous drought-impacted season.

It is still early in Argentina’s wheat growing season, and a forecasted transition to El Niño climate conditions could further bring increased precipitation to the country’s wheat regions.

However, consistent rainfall isn’t likely until El Nino is better established in a few months. But some showers are predicted over the next few days and weeks.

Argentina is the second-biggest wheat producer and exporter in the Southern Hemisphere, after Australia, and plays a critical role in global supplies as its crop helps to fill a gap after Northern Hemisphere countries’ wheat has been sold. 

Moreover, US dollar-denominated agricultural exports are vital to Argentina’s economy to service international debt and pay for imported products, the price of which has increased as the Argentine peso continues to weaken. 

Argentina is also the world’s leading exporter of processed soybeans as well as a major corn and wheat supplier, but its production of grains has been hurt by severe drought and other damaging weather events, causing major losses both for farmers and the cash-strapped government.

The arrival of rains improves the prospects for the wheat and barley crops,” the Buenos Aires grains exchange said in its weekly crop report.

Argentina’s agricultural core, including farmland in northern Buenos Aires province, southern Santa Fe, and Southeast Cordoba, received up to 75 millimeters of rainfall in the last 24 hours, according to the national meteorological service SMN. 

The grains exchange is expecting a further 10 to 25 millimeters of rain in the same region in the coming days.

However, the recent rainfall also has caused delays in the harvesting of soybeans in the current 2022-23 harvesting season, estimated at just 21 million tonnes against a total of 43.3 million tonnes in the previous 2021-22 season. 

So far, soybean farmers have reaped 78% of the planted area. 

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