Argentina's 2021/22 soybean yields in the core farm zone could come in below the drought-hit 2017/18 season if no major rains arrive, the Rosario grains exchange said in a weather report, underscoring how key the weeks ahead will be for the harvest.
The South American country, the world's no. 1 exporter of processed soybean oil and meal, has been hit by spells of drought since late last year and the drought seems to have taken hold again this month with little sign of major rains over the next week.
The Rosario exchange, which cut its soy harvest outlook sharply in January, said in the report dated 17 February that the yield - the amount produced in a given area - could drop beneath the level in 2018 when a major drought hammered production. It estimates a soybean harvest of 40.5 million tonnes.
The exchange currently forecasts the soybean crop yield at 31.8 quintals per hectare (qq/ha) in the core farm belt region, which compares to 29 qq/ha in 2017/2018.
"But that number has not been adjusted in the last 7 days and the chances of rain are not encouraging," it said.
The exchange said the next week would see scattered showers, before heavier rains arrive at the end of the month, tallying with the outlook of the rival Buenos Aires grains exchange.
"The forecasts are not favourable in terms of a general supply of water until the beginning of the last week of the month," weather expert José Luis Aiello said in the report.
Esteban Copati, head of agricultural estimates at the Buenos Aires exchange, told Reuters last week that rains in the coming weeks would be key and that crops could recover to a degree if there was enough precipitation.
The Rosario exchange added that some small early harvested corn batches had shown very low yields, though they were from areas particularly hard-hit by drought. It warned this could be a sign that estimated corn yields could be adjusted downwards.