Bloomberg — With many crop traders focusing on Argentina’s drought, one forecaster has tapped satellite imagery to make the bold prediction that nation’s upcoming soybean harvest may plunge to a five-year low.
Mickael Attia, a crop analyst with EarthDaily Analytics, sees the soy harvest in the second quarter shrinking to 36.9 million metric tons. That’s well below the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange’s estimate of 48 million tons, and would be at a level not seen by the bourse since 2018. Argentina is the biggest exporter of soy meal and soy oil.
“It’s a little bit aggressive, especially if there’s a change in the weather pattern in February, but right now it makes sense given the frighteningly low moisture levels,” Attia said in an interview.
His Vancouver-based firm is part of a mushrooming satellite-analytics industry that is increasingly being drawn into crop forecasting, usually in conjunction with on-the-field accounts since images and algorithms alone can’t tell the whole story. Argentine crops are in a tough spot after La Nina caused drought to farmlands, ravaged wheat and forced growers to delay soy and corn planting.
With fieldwork still getting finished and the possibility of rain in a few weeks, other prognosticators have yet to revise preseason estimates. The US Department of Agriculture estimated the soy harvest at 49.5 million tons, though it is set to update its outlook Thursday. The Rosario Board of Trade, whose forecasts tend to lead other institutions, is scheduled to publish its monthly report Wednesday. Rosario and the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange use farmer surveys.
While many soy plants are in bad shape, La Nina is fading. That should in theory make way for rainfall at the end of January and early February — during yield-defining growth stages — that could save the crop.
EarthDaily Analytics also predicts an Argentine corn crop of 45.4 million tons, compared to a 50 million estimate from the Buenos Aires exchange and the USDA’s 55 million forecast. Argentina is the world’s third-biggest corn exporter.
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