Argentina govt. forecasts wheat crop at 8.5 million tonnes

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Argentina’s 2013-14 wheat crop should come in at 8.5 million tonnes, compared with 8.2 million tonnes in the previous season, the Agriculture Ministry said Dec. 3 in its monthly crop report.

“Conditions in the southern half of Buenos Aires province — the largest producing area — allow for the forecast of good yields,” the government report said.

Rains arrived rather late in the rest of the country, but coincided mostly with key development stages of the wheat crop, which could make up — at least in part — for inconvenient winter weather, the report said.

The government’s corn plantation forecast for 2013/14 remained unchanged at 5.7 million hectares (14.1 million acres), while the soy crop area rose slightly to 20.7 million hectares from 20.65 million hectares forecast in October.

The wheat estimate is well below that of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which sees an Argentine wheat crop of 11 million tonnes this season. The USDA recently marked the wheat crop forecast down from a previous 12 million tonnes.

Argentine farmers are avoiding wheat planting to skirt export curbs that the government puts on wheat and corn. Growers say the curbs, meant to ensure ample domestic food supply, hurt profits by killing competition among buyers who bid for their crops.

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