The Blind Are Leading The Blind

If I asked you to name two of the top most reliable news reporting agencies in the world I guess that Dow Jones and Reuters would figure quite highly in the list.

It is more than a little perturbing therefore that for the second week running both appear to be blindly reporting crop figures out of Argentina, with little regard for their accuracy.

Maybe it's just me, maybe because I write this stuff so often I have these numbers swimming around in my head constantly. What was last year's Argy soybean planted hectares? Anyone know off the top of their heads? It was 16.6 million, at least that's the figure I have. The USDA say HARVESTED area was 16.0 million, which kind of sounds plausible, with 600,000 abandoned due to the severe drought.

It also seems commonly accepted that planted area this season will be up big-time, somewhere between 18.5 and 20 million hectares.

Today we have Reuters reporting that this season's Argy soybean area will be 19 million hectares, up 7% from 17.75 million last year. They quote the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange for this latest forecast. Now I can buy 19 million hectares OK, but where did 17.75 million from last year come from?

Nobody seems to know. Dow Jones are slightly more cannily reporting area at 19 million ha, up 7%, without actually mentioning what last season's area was.

Yet last week they openly stated that last season's planted area was 16.6 million ha.

Also last week there was some consternation when Reuters and Dow Jones both released stories saying that the Argy wheat crop was down 18.5% on last year.

They both said that it was down from 9.2 MMT to 7.5 MMT, according to the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange. Yet it seems a commonly accepted fact that last season's Argy wheat crop was 8.3-8.4 MMT, certainly not 9.2 MMT.

It seems that nobody in Argentina has a clue what they are doing. If they can't agree on last season's output twelve months down the line, how can we hope that this season's predictions are accurate?