Argentina expects record smashing corn crop of 37 mln tonnes

BUENOS AIRES, March 23 (Reuters) – Argentina will likely harvest a record 37 million tonnes of corn this season, the government said on Wednesday, after a surge in late planting spurred by the lowering of export barriers by President Mauricio Macri.

The forecast dwarfs the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 27 million-tonne estimate for 2015-16 Argentine corn.

Macri, elected in November, has eliminated export taxes on corn and wheat while tossing out the quota system that the previous government used to ensure ample domestic food supplies.

The new harvest, which has already begun in early-planted areas, is expected to easily exceed the previous record of 33.8 million tonnes of corn in 2014-15. The USDA pegged the 2014-15 crop at 27 million tonnes.

“We have confirmed an increase in corn sowing area thanks to late-season planting motivated by good trade conditions,” the agriculture ministry said in its monthly crop report, in which it also forecast a 60.9 million-tonne 2015-16 soy harvest. USDA’s forecast is 58.5 million.

Argentine farmers are selling their corn stockpiles at a record pace after Macri ditched the previous administration’s export curbs soon after his December inauguration, unleashing fresh supplies onto a saturated global market and potentially hurting prices.

Southern Brazil is looking to import some corn from Argentina after strong demand for corn exports left Brazil with regional shortages.

One Parana-based trader said around 250,000 tonnes of Argentine corn had been purchased for delivery to southern ports between April and May 15, when Brazil’s second of two annual corn harvests begins.

Poultry producers in Brazil have complained about the rising price of corn for animal feed due to the shortages.

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