Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange Slashes Production Estimates

A bevvy of official estimates are now starting to appear, confirming what unofficial estimates have been saying for a while now - that this season's crops in Argentina look like coming in well below original projections.

It reminds me a little of the news reports on TV every night for the last six or eight months warning that "there is a danger that Britain is entering a recession."

Everybody knew we were in one, it just took a while for "official proof" to confirm it.

Well that's what seems to be staring to happen in Argentina now. The country is in the grip of it's worst drought for 100 years, and crop production estimates are being slashed.

The Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said Friday that the recently harvested wheat crop produced 8.7mmt, 46% down on last season. The Argentine Ag Secretariat says things are even worse, that final production is in fact 48% down at just 8.3mmt, from 16mmt a year ago. Wheat export permit applications are now being rejected by the agricultural trade office Oncca.

The BACE goes on to say that soybean production in 2009 will be 17-25% down on 2008, giving us a crop in the region of 36mmt if we take the middle ground. That's 13.5mmt lower than the current USDA estimate. Private "unofficial" estimates I have heard of say that a crop as low as 30 million is on the cards unless they get significant rain soon.

For corn the Exchange say that production could fall even more, by 33-40% to around 13mmt, that's 5 million below that USDA at the moment.

The chill note is that the Exchange go on to say that without significant rains in the next few days yields for both crops could fall further.

The USDA attache is set to do his rounds and assess the situation next week ahead of their revised production estimates due out Feb 10. If this weekends rains disappoint, it could already be game over by then.