The maize planting area for this year, which will be harvested in 2012 is predicted to rise 15% to 5m hectares. If the weather is favourable, it could reach 30m tonnes – 6t/ha on average – which would be a record for Argentina’s agriculture and give a boost to the ailing production being reported in the US.
I am planning to plant 181ha (450 acres) of maize to benefit the rotation from the increased organic matter return to the soil that maize provides. This year we have increasingly developed genetic potential from the varieties available and my business will also benefit from the low cost no-till system for seeding maize.
Maize in Argentina is renowned for being an important ally in seeking to stabilise yields and improve field condition, both for its abundant root system and its excellent mulch effect through the stem and leaf matter return, which we will no-till drill soya beans through the following year.
This year, seed and input costs have jumped by around 20% – but this isn’t putting growers off. Good prices, stable yields, soil-moisture benefits, better technology and a gross margin, that in many cases exceeds soya beans, ensures growing maize remains an attractive option.
Personally, with a projected yield of 10t/ha, a rent of 36% of gross income, and assuming a crop value of US$175/t (£109/t) at harvest time – after export retention tax – the gross margin is around $308/ha (£192/t) and my breakeven yield is around 6t/ha.
Looking ahead, the potential of maize in Argentina is massive. Should our government choose to facilitate greater trade levels and decrease export taxes – maize has a 20% export retention tax currently – that could only serve to increase further maize production.
Farmer Focus Arable: Federico Rolle