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South American Planting Picture Foggy

Market pressures on corn could push more acres to soybeans in the region, but it may be too early to tell.

Published on: Oct 14, 2013

Just what will South America be planting this year? And how could it change the global marketing picture? The crop production powerhouse of Argentina and Brazil are shaking up global trade with rising supplies of key crops, but predicting  how 2013 planting will go remains a mystery.

The U.S. Grains Council reports that lack of USDA export data and that missed October supply and demand report have left the market to trade on private yield estimates and field reports.

The group reports that early corn planting got underway in August in Argentina, and runs through October. The late corn crop gets planted in November into early January. A Grains Council consultant in the region notes that planting delays for early corn is shifting some acres to the later crop. Dry weather could also shift more acres toward soybeans.

TOO EARLY TO TELL: Lack of USDA data will keep traders guessing about plantings in South America, though private data collectors could have an edge.
TOO EARLY TO TELL: Lack of USDA data will keep traders guessing about plantings in South America, though private data collectors could have an edge.

With corn prices sliding, soybeans may also be a planting refuge for South American farmers since it costs twice as much to plant corn than soybeans. The last USDA crop report predicted Argentine corn production at 26 million tons (about 1 billion bushels), which would be about even with last year.

In Brazil, a big carryover of corn has hit planting decisions for corn in the country with farmers not planting the summer corn crop. An anticipated record soybean crop may also be part of the decision. The country is also still dealing with logistical issues that slow movement of grain from field to market.

USDA - in September - estimated Brazil would produce about 2.8 billion bushels for corn, which is down from 3.7 billion bushels last year. The Council's consultant says it's still early to be predicting the Brazil corn crop.

Check out the complete U.S. Grains Council assessment.