A snapshot of Argentina's worst drought in decades

A snapshot of Argentina’s worst drought in decades

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We had to prepare for the worst scenario of the last 20 years in this grain campaign and that’s what we’re seeing,” said Cristian Russo, head of projections at Rosario Grain Exchange.

Rousseau said soil moisture levels were worse than in the 2008/09 campaign, when the South American country produced 31 million tonnes of soybeans planted on 18 million hectares.

The exchange forecast a soybean harvest of 48 million tonnes in 2022/23, but that figure is likely to be lower as drought delays planting and renders some areas of land unusable.

The outlook for corn currently being planted is also uncertain. Farmer Bastanchuri said, “If there is no rain in December or it is not normal now…the number of hectares to be planted is definitely going to be very less.”

Forecast: No major rain

In Navarro, residents can walk among the remains of shells and dead fish in the 150-hectare local lagoon. With fewer rains forecast and higher temperatures in the Southern Hemisphere summer, it’s unlikely to refill any time soon.

The National Meteorological Service forecast for the period December 2022–February 2023 is for below-normal rainfall in most of the agricultural core, including the north of Buenos Aires province and south of Santa Fe.

“There is a high probability of very high maximum temperatures and very high minimum temperatures. Both are very high, which means it’s going to be very hot,” said climatologist and researcher Matilde Rusticucci.

The Rosario Grain Exchange said there would be some rain, between 10 and 15 millimeters, in the areas most in need over the next few days, but not enough.

Russo compared it to the drought in 2008-09, saying, “It’s not the significant rain that we need.” This year, he said, seemed worse.

Rousseau said the current wheat crop forecast of 11.8 million tonnes, already down from the original 19 million tonnes, could be further reduced. The wheat harvest in 2008/09 was 8.3 million tonnes.

“We’re at a point where things look really, really complicated,” he said.

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