Feb 21, 2023

Surprising Mid-Summer Frost HitsitsHits Argentina

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Many Argentine farmers woke up Saturday morning to something they probably had never seen before - light to moderate frosts in the middle of summer! Temperatures in parts of Cordoba and Buenos Aires on Saturday morning were as low as -2.8°C (27°F) and the astonishing thing is that just a few days before, the same region was 30°C (86°F). It appears that the soybeans were hit harder than the corn.

Everyone was surprised by the low temperatures. Given the stage of development of the soybeans, this would be about the equivalent of a frost in the Midwest in late July or early August. As of yet, the extent of the damage is not known and it usually takes a few days to judge the full impact of a frost. An additional problem is that this is carnival week, so most people are off work until the end of the week.

Everything that could go wrong with the 2022/23 soybean crop in Argentina did go wrong - from the worst drought in 60 years to record high temperatures and now light to moderate frost in what is essentially the middle of summer. The extent of the damage from the frost will not be known for several more days, but it certainly is going to hurt the crop.

Temperatures last week in Argentina went from one extreme to another with record highs earlier last week in parts of northern Argentina to record lows in parts of southwestern Argentina last Saturday morning. A surprising push of cold and dry polar air swept into Argentina dropping temperatures to record lows. Light to moderate frosts were reported across central Argentina, but this was probably not a widespread killing frost.

The Rosario Grain Exchange is forecasting the smallest soybean crop in the core production areas in 15 years. They estimate that as much as 400,000 hectares of early planted soybeans may not be harvested and they are estimating the soybean crop at 34.5 million tons.

Some soybean crushers in Argentina have had to buy back some of their contracts for March for soybean meal and soybean oil deliveries due to low spot soybean availability. At the start of the growing season, the 2022/23 Argentina soybean crop was estimated at 51.0 million tons, but that has now backed down to the mid-30's. In addition to low availability, farmers may also retain more of their soybeans than normal this year waiting for the government to issue another "soybean dollar" program, which they did twice last year.

The soybeans in Argentina were rated 56% poor/very poor, 35% fair, and 9% good/excellent as of late last week. The good/excellent percentage was down 4 points from the previous week. The soil moisture for the soybeans was rated 67% short/very short and 33% favorable/optimum. The favorable/optimum percentage is down 6 points from the prior week. The worst rated soybeans are in central and northern Santa Fe and central Entre Rios.

Approximately 63% of the early planted soybeans are filling pods with 1-3% of the soybeans mature. Late planted soybeans are approximately 50% flowering. There have not been any reports of soybean harvesting.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange left their soybean and corn estimates unchanged (38 and 44.5 million tons respectively), but they warned that their estimates could move lower in subsequent reports. Below is the soybean condition rating in Argentina from the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange for February 16, 2023.


2022/23 Argentina Soybean Ratings*

ConditionSoil Moisture
Poor/V. Poor %Good/Excellent %Short/V ShortFavorable/Optimum
Jan. 5, 2023 38 (13) 8 (50) 43 (41) 57 (59)
Jan. 12, 2023 56 (29) 4 (33) 66 (60) 34 (40)
Jan. 19, 2023 60 (56) 3 (29) 70 (52) 30 (47)
Jan. 26, 2023 54 (22) 7 (36) 63 (36) 37 (64)
Feb. 2, 2023 46 (20) 12 (38) 53 (36) 47 (64)
Feb. 9, 2023 48 (19) 13 (40) 61 (33) 39 (67)
Feb. 16, 2023 56 (23) 9 (35) 67 (36) 33 (64)

*Source: Buenos Aires Grain Exchange – Crop Condition & Development Stages