Argentina To Plant Record Soy Acres At Expense Of Wheat And Corn

Argentina's Agriculture Secretariat said Friday that the nation's farmers would plant a record 18.1m ha of soybeans for the 2008-09 crop. That figure is up substantially from the previous record acreage of 16.6m planted last season.

The figure represents an increase of 100% in area given over to Argentine soybeans in the last ten years.

Planting is currently 23% complete, the Secretariat added.

Soybeans are more popular than ever this season, due to a combination of lower input requirements relative to other crops, and also farmer mistrust of the government. After a difficult year, with long-running disputes between Argentine farmers and the government, the spectre of export bans on corn and wheat are always a possibility from the cash-strapped government. The threat of an export ban on soybeans is much lower.

The corn crop is seen at 67% planted, with 3.4m ha seen going into corn production this year. Output for the season ahead is seen at 18mmt, some 2.5mmt lower than 2007/08.

The wheat harvest in Argentina has just begun at around 5% complete. Final output is only expected to be in the region of 9.5 to 11mmt, the Secretariat says, substantially down on last seasons 16mmt due to lower plantings and drought.