Hopes for Argentina’s corn production took another knock as the Buenos Aires grains exchange cut by 2m tonnes its forecast for the crop, citing disappointing yields from the early harvest.

The exchange downgraded by 2m tonnes to 49m tonnes its estimate for 2021-22 corn output in the South American country, the world’s third largest exporter of the grain, after the US and Brazil.

The revision took the figure further below the 55m tonnes that Argentina reaped last season, on the exchange’s estimates, to a four-year low.

Corn shortfall?

It also enhanced the exchange’s apparent pessimism compared with other major commentators.

The International Grains Council pegs the crop at 57.0m tonnes and the US Department of Agriculture at 53.0m tonnes, although statistical methodology, and what counts as commercial and non-sileage crop, means caution should be taken over direct comparisons.

Nonetheless, the revision adds to the question marks over world corn supplies, given the conflict which has hampered shipments of 2021 crop from Ukraine, the world’s fourth-ranked exporter, and raised doubts over the 2022 harvest.

APK-Inform on Wednesday forecast that Ukraine’s overall grains harvest this year would tumble by 55% to 38.9m tonnes, thanks to a cut in sowings, with exports seen dropping by 32% below 30m tonnes, including some 10m tonnes of wheat and 19m tonnes of corn.

‘Irregular rains’

The Buenos Aires exchange said that its downgrade reflected results of the harvest, now 10.1% complete, which showed results “below initial expectations”, reflecting heat and water “stress” in January.

While recent rains had improved condition of some less mature crops, “irregular” rainfall “received during the critical period” for earlier seeded corn had told in variable yields.

The exchange stood by its estimate of a 42m-tonne Argentine soybean harvest in 2021-22, although noting a divide between early-harvest results from the south, where yields were coming in “close to historical averages”, and the north, where they were “close to historical minimums”.

It also cautioned that frosts last weekend “could compromise the yield potential” in some soybean crops.