Argentina downpour ‘damaging’ for soy and corn, weather analysts say

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 7:10 PM

By Maximilian Heath

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – A new front of heavy rains over key grains regions of Argentina could be “very damaging” to the South American country’s current soy and corn crops and could dent production, a local grains exchange and a weather expert said on Wednesday.

Argentina, one of the world’s top two exporters of soybean oil and meal, and the third largest for corn, has seen strong rains well above normal levels so far this month, initially boosting dry soils but now starting to saturate farmland.

“The rains we’re getting are totally unneeded, very damaging to the south and east of Entre Ríos (province), south of Santa Fe and the north of Buenos Aires,” said German Heinzenknecht, a meteorologist at Applied Climatology Consulting (CCA).

According to the National Meteorological Service (SMN), in the last 24 hours the agricultural core of Argentina received between 15 and 50 millimeters of rain, with more storms expected for the entire day on Wednesday.

“We are seeing excess water in these areas,” Marina Barletta, analyst at the Rosario grains exchange said in a report published on Wednesday.

“There are locations that have exceeded 300 millimeters so far in March and there we are seeing flooded lots of soybeans.”

The rainfall is hitting as Argentine producers recently began harvesting 2023/24 corn and when soybean harvesting will begin in the coming weeks.

The Rosario exchange estimates the soy harvest at 50 million tons and corn at 57 million tons. But both the CCA and the exchange have said that recent rains put those numbers at risk.

“It impacts the development of crops, especially in soybean lots,” the Rosario exchange said in its report. Delays to the soy harvest along with high humidity can cause the pods to open and the beans to be lost or to sprout inside the pod.

Added to the copious rains, some areas saw hail in different parts of Buenos Aires in the last few hours. Photos shared with Reuters showed some fields of flattened corn crops and large chunks of hail, some the size of eggs.

“The hail destroyed everything, we had about 400 hectares with phenomenal yields of soybeans and corn, which now has all been lost,” said an agricultural producer from the Buenos Aires town of 25 de Mayo, who asked not to be named.

“The last storm left us in ruins.”

Meanwhile, Argentine capital Buenos Aires and its surrounds saw the largest fall of rain overnight and on Wednesday, with more than 100 millimeters in a short period of time that has generated flooding and destruction of all kinds.

On Wednesday morning, different media showed highways under water, cars floating along avenues and even a huge billboard that had collapsed on top of a building. At the peak of the storm, flights were canceled at the capital’s two airports.

(Reporting by Maximilian Heath; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Aurora Ellis)