Soya harvest confirms poor yield predictions, says Federico Rolle

The soya-bean harvest progress is confirming the bad yield forecasts because of the drought. Whether in the north of the country or in the rich pampas, yields are down but vary widely, ranging from 14% to over 42% down.

In the case of my area (Bigand region), 386ha of my first soya crop averaged 2.6t/ha, representing a fall of 30% compared with 3.7t/ha in the previous year.

The main cause was the shortage of water. Although in many areas the rain arrived in late January, it was not enough to turn the crop around. Our soya lacks at least 100mm and in the northern provinces of Argentina, the water balance was 400-500mm short.

But there were other factors, such as high temperatures. Thus, soya beans had to endure many days over 35C, which resulted in the loss of two to three blooms in various zones.

In addition, there were failures in fully controlling certain pests, from Tetranychus urticae (red spider mite), Caliothrisp phaseoli (American bean thrips) and Helicoverpa zea (soybean bollworm). In some areas, there were losses of 0.8t/ha, put down to growers being unaware the the pest issue.

Another problem this season was a lack of effective control of some difficult weeds, such as Conyza bonariensis (Flaxleaf Fleabane), resulting in explosive growth.

In this context, where the effect of La NiƱa cut agricultural production in 2011-12, revenues will be higher for the 2012-13 season, particularly for soya beans, with prices pushed up by lower production. Soya prices are, so far, up 30%.

But it will not fully compensate for the reduced yields in drought-affected areas and the higher production costs. Overall, it is estimated that rent values will fall, due to the reduced financial capacity of farmers for the next planting season (2012-13).

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