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Soyabean production in Argentina is forecast to drop to its lowest level in 15 years in the 2022/23 marketing year due to a prolonged drought, according to a report by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Grain wrote.

The USDA’s revised soyabean production forecast of 36M tonnes was 9.5M tonnes lower than its previous estimate and would be Argentina’s lowest soyabean output since 2008/09, when 32M tonnes were harvested, the 3 February report said.

In the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report, the USDA said although recent rainfall would help second-crop soyabeans, above average weather conditions would need to continue throughout February for a substantial recovery to take place.

“A wide range of possibilities still exist for the 2022/23 soyabean crop.” With perfect growing conditions for the rest of the season, it is still early enough that the large [hectarage] of second crop late-planted soyabeans could compensate for losses in first-crop beans to yield a total production that exceeds the disastrous drought during the 2017/18 crop year (which produced 37M tonnes). However, a return to high temperatures and dry conditions could drop production lower than our current estimate.”

Some of the most productive cropland in the country had been affected by the drought, the report said, particularly south-central Santa Fe, northern Buenos Aires, and much of Entre Ríos Province. In a recent crop tour, the USDA said there had been “unprecedented levels of abandonment in this normally verdant region”.

Argentina is typically the world’s third largest soyabean producer after Brazil and the USA, according to the World Grain report.