Christmas rainstorms across Argentina further delayed soy and corn planting, keeping markets guessing about whether the grains powerhouse can produce enough this season to help bring high-flying global food prices down.
Up to 100 mm of rain fell on Christmas and the follwing days, forcing growers to once again to park their seeding machines worried that they may sink in the mud.
Argentina is the world's No. 2 corn exporter after the United States and its No. 1 soy-oil and soy-meal supplier. But sowing in the central Pampas farm belt lags behind last season's tempo by about 20%, said Tomas Parenti, an agronomist with the Rosario futures exchange.
Argentina's main grains port of Rosario situated along the Parana River and offering access to the shipping lanes of the South Atlantic, has received almost twice its normal rainfall this year.
Soggy conditions on the Pampas are bad news for consumer nations looking to Argentina for the supply needed to soften food prices which escalated this year by dry crop weather in Russia, the US and Australia.
The rains also slowed 2012/13 wheat harvesting. The Argentine Agriculture Ministry cut its estimate for 2012/13 wheat production by 5% to 10.5 mill. t, which is still higher than leading private forecasts but reflects damage caused by the wet weather.
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange expects farmers to harvest 9.8 mill. t of wheat, while the Rosario exchange sees the crop coming in at 9.5 mill. t. Rosario sees 53 mill. t of soybeans produced this season and 24 mill t of corn.