BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) — Argentina is on track to harvest more wheat this season than last as greater acreage and coming warm weather should offset any yield loss caused by recent frosts.
The grain powerhouse should produce more than the 8.2 million tonnes it reported last season. Harvesting starts in November and forecasts call for warm weather after the wheat belt got blasted by Antarctic air the past few days.
“There have been frosts, but not enough to significantly damage yields. We can come back from this,” said Ruben Sgalippa, who owns a farm in the town of Carlos Casares, Buenos Aires province. Other growers around the Pampas grains belt echoed Sgalippa’s take on the situation.
The United States Department of Agriculture sees a 2013-14 Argentine wheat crop of 12 million tonnes, up from 10 million tonnes the previous season. Planting intentions in-creased this year thanks to a local price surge caused by high early-season exports.
A big crop is needed in Argentina after last year’s smaller harvest tightened supplies and drove up local bread prices. World buyers, including neighbour Brazil, also need Argentina’s wheat as global demand for grain is on the rise.
U.S. wheat exports are already up 40 percent this year versus 2012 as buyers look to America for supplies needed to compensate for a poor Chinese crop and possible low yields in Argentina, where growers strive to avoid planting wheat in order to skirt onerous export curbs imposed by the government.
“The acreage planted this year is larger than last year, and the crop looks better, although we have had drought in some areas, and many frosts,” said David Hughes, who manages about 17,000 acres of farmland in northern Buenos Aires province.
“All considered, total production should be greater than last year,” he added.