The run of downgrades that drought has brought to Argentine wheat hopes spread to corn as the Buenos Aires grains exchange cut its sowings forecast, citing a slow pace of seedings in the face of the dryness.

The exchange, which had already forecast Argentine corn sowings this season falling for the first time in eight years, took a further 200,000 hectares from the estimate, cutting it to 7.30m tonnes.

The downgrade reflected a “lack of optimum moisture levels” in the soil, which will “prevent sowing” of all the area of early corn that farmers had intended.

Argentine corn seeding is split into two phases, with early crop seeded by the end of this month, and late plantings starting in December, to cut the risk of crop damage from seasonal heat.

‘Significant delays’

Seedings progress has reached 17% of the expected area – below a five-year average total of 31.1%, as farmers slow plantings into soil which may be unable to support crop establishment.

“These significant delays are the product of the lack of topsoil moisture,” the Buenos Aires grains exchange, also called BdeC, said.

It reported that half the area intended for seedings was rated “poor” or “dry” in soil moisture terms, compared with a figure of 28% a year ago.

The tardy planting progress, and the imminent closure of the sowings window for early corn, is leaving producers pondering whether to leave unseeded area for late corn, or to switch it to soybeans.

‘Generated additional losses’

The comments came the day after the Rosario grains exchange also cautioned over the threat to corn sowings from dryness, although stood by its forecast of 8.0m hectares in sowings.

Like the Rosario exchange, BdeC also downgraded its forecast for the forthcoming Argentine wheat harvest, although by a slightly less significant 1.3m tonnes, to 15.2m tonnes, after frost added to the setback from dryness.

Frosts in the central wheat belt on October 8 and 9 “while 19.4% of the crops were between flowering and grain filling, generated additional losses to those initially expected”, BdeC said.

The exchange estimates last season’s harvest at 22.40m tonnes.