Soyabean harvest has begun and early results are surprisingly good with a high of 4.5t/ha in southern Santa Fe Province, around 100km (62 miles) south-west of Rosario City.
To date, my harvest progress has amounted to 121ha (300 acres) – 10% of my plantings. I’m hopeful that these good early results will raise historical averages of 3-3.5t/ha.
Yields are varying widely on fields being monitored 7-15km (4.3-9.3 miles) from my farm, ranging from 3-4.5t/ha. This reflects the drought conditions during the early stages in the early plantings, but rainfall was the key during the final stages of crop development (grain filling).
With yields averaging around 4t/ha and a price of US$320/t (£195/t), and paying a rent of 36% of the output farm produced, we estimate that gross margin a hectare will be around US$600/ha (£370) after direct costs of US$227/ha (£140/ha) for harvest, haulage, and 35% of retention export tax. These gross margin figures are the highest in the last 20 years.
However, this time of excellent international commodities prices could be passing us by without being able to fully exploit the market in our own returns. Selling is a complex task here when markets function poorly due to government intervention with the international market and interference with export rules and internal markets.
For example, the difference in wheat prices is outrageous and it’s making marketing difficult. Wheat is also subject to 23% retention export taxes. Planting soybeans every year is not possible in the medium term, so we need wheat and maize in the rotation to improve soil physical structure, increase soil organic matter, disease control, replace nutrients and increase straw cover.
With prices slashed by retention export tax and difficulties in marketing, the future will not be easy. Faced with rising costs, as always the results will depend entirely on the weather.