Currently there are two trends affecting this season’s maize planting. First, the area will be smaller than last year due to flooding in many areas of Buenos Aires province.
Another trend is that crops will be grown using a no-till approach to take advantage of the available moisture and good prices. But there is great caution by growers, after last year’s experience of government intervention in controlling the grain export market, thus limiting our ability to enjoy the high global prices.
Another indicator is input buying, which is running at a fairly normal pace, but growers in Buenos Aires province are 50% behind last year.
However, soya bean is still the cheaper alternative, when considering that soya bean seed costs $30 (£18.60) a bag and can be grown at much lower direct costs than maize. This will affect many farmer’s spring planting decisions after the results of last year and facing higher input costs.
Fertiliser demand has weakened due the smaller wheat area and the forecast reduction in maize. Urea is being offered at $600/t (£372/t), and mono and diammonium phosphate, at $740/t (£460/t). There is good availability of atrazine and other herbicides for maize, but glyphosate has risen from $2.95/litre last year to $3.50/litre (£2.17) due to the rise in demand from China.
Having said all that, I will start planting maize on 65ha of rented area at Bigand in the next week (weather permitting). I am aiming for a seed rate of 80,000 seeds/ha (4.2 seeds/m of row at 52.5 cm each row). With a seed cost of $175/bag (£108) of 80.000 seeds of the hybrid variety Ax887, I am budgeting for a yield of 12t/ha and expect a sale price of $220/t (£136/t). Forward prices here are available now for $200/t (£124/t) for April/May 2013.