Argentine corn planting area propelled higher by policy optimism
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, Dec 1 - Argentina's farmers are racing to plant more corn now a new farm-friendly government is taking power, increasing the area planted by 10 percent over previous estimates, and making more exports likely from one of the world's biggest suppliers.
Mauricio Macri will become president of Argentina, one of the world's biggest corn and soybean suppliers, on Dec. 10 after winning last month's election on a free-markets platform with promises to cut taxes and reduce controls on grains exports.
Farmers now have a six-week window in key growing regions to plant corn before mid-January and they are rushing to buy seeds and fertilizers. Extra output, combined with Macri's promise of a more competitive exchange rate, will likely boost exports.
"You can already see farmers changing their planting plans. Over the last week we have seen that they might plant 300,000 to 400,000 hectares more corn than the 2.6 million hectares we previously imagined," said Alfredo Paseyro, executive director of the Argentine Seed Merchants Association (ASA).
Pablo Torello, who manages 2,500 hectares in the bread-basket province of Buenos Aires, said he upped corn plantings to 480 hectares from an originally planned 300 when Macri beat ruling party candidate Daniel Scioli on Nov. 22.
"Macri made his farm policies clear during the campaign, so when he won we were ready to invest in corn. We had the money set aside," Torello said. Corn costs about $535 per hectare to grow, 80 percent more than soy, Argentina's main cash crop.
Torello estimates that his neighbors in the northern Buenos Aires municipality of Bragado are increasing corn planting by 10 to 15 percent due to the expected shift in government policy.
More than 90 percent of corn planted in Argentina is genetically modified and GMO seeds have seen a sales jump since the Nov. 22 election, as have related agro-chemicals and the weed killers glyphosate and atrazine sold by companies like Monsanto. Continuación...