Farmers in Argentina are shifting from cereal crops to soyabeans amid rising fertiliser prices, World Grain reported from a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report on 29 April.

With soyabeans requiring less fertiliser than some other crops, Argentine farmers are expected to plant 17M ha to produce 51M tonnes of soyabeans in the marketing year 2022/23, according to the Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

The USDA projected soyabean planted area to increase by 650,000ha, or 4%, from its adjusted estimate for 2021/22, while total production was expected to increase by 24%. The 41M tonne crop in 2021/22 was heavily impacted by drought.

“While this forecast (for 2022/23) assumes a return to normal weather, some analysts are predicting a possible third year of La Niña, a weather pattern that traditionally leads to drier growing conditions in Argentina,” the USDA said. “The increase in planted area will largely come at the expense of corn acreage, which is expected to fall in response to high fertiliser costs and the need for crop rotation in some places.”

Crushing volumes in 2022/23 crush are expected to reach 41.5M tonnes, up 6.7% from the USDA’s revised 2021/22 forecast, due to a recovery in domestic production and soyabean imports.

The USDA lowered its 2021/2022 crushing forecast to 38.9M tonnes due to limited supplies resulting from drought that affected production in both Argentina and Paraguay.

“Argentine soyabeans have seen average protein levels decline steadily in recent years, and crushers will find it particularly challenging in the coming year to meet protein requirements in meal due to the significant reduction in imports of higher protein soyabeans from Paraguay,” the USDA said.

The USDA projects 2022/23 exports of whole soyabeans at 6.5M tonnes, up 136% from the projected 2021/22 level of 2.75M tonnes. Soyameal exports in 2022/23 are forecast at 27.5M tonnes, after falling to 26M tonnes in 2021/22, due to anticipated reduced crushing volumes. Soya oil exports for 2022/23 are projected at 5.9M tonnes, up slightly from revised 2021/22 projections of 5.7M tonnes.

Sunflowerseed planted area in 2022/23 is set to increase by 17.6% to 2M ha, with total production estimated at 4M tonnes in response to high prices and worldwide constraints caused by the conflict in Ukraine, which had been the world’s largest supplier prior to the crisis.

“Argentine sunflower seed oil exporters are reportedly fielding unprecedented call volumes from new customers seeking to replace Black Sea sunflowerseed oil,” the USDA said.