FARMER FOCUS: Wide variations evident in soya bean yields

We have harvested about 83% of the soyabean crop and yields are varying widely and are generally lower than expected. Low temperatures in February caused slower growth, which affected yield potential.

In addition, mild frosts in mid-March affected leaves and pods at the top of the plant (first crop), which did not subsequently fill the grain.

In the second crops (after wheat), frost has caused crop loss in some fields, and in others has also affected the upper third of the plants, which have not filled with grain.

The yields in soybeans first crop are generally between 2.6-3t/ha, with extremes between 1.8 and 3.7t/ha. In my case, I was fortunate to obtain 4.4t/ha from one crop as the rain in late January helped my yields. Yields in the second crop are rarely exceeding 1.5t/ha.

The break-even yields to cover costs of growing soyabean first crops are about 1.6t/ha, and this does not cover rent. Importantly, our wheat cropping plans for the coming months are low. This is due to the harvest net margin estimates for December 2013/January 2014 being very low even on owned land. For rented land, it is a negative figure.

This is caused by higher costs of output, a lower global price and the additional impact of market controls within Argentina, which further limit our ex-farm prices. The weight of the export retention tax will affect our national area for December 2013/January 2014 harvest.

The government intervention in the wheat export market has resulted in a progressive decline in the area planted in recent years and placed severe obstacles to the marketing of wheat at harvest. It’s similar to the impact on our beef production, with Argentina now a net importer.

Federico Rolle farms 2,250ha of rented arable land in the Pampa area of Argentina. He grows soya beans, sorghum, maize and wheat using no-till techniques and GM crops. He has a part-time role helping Brown & Co in the region

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