The forecast expansion of Uruguay’s soyabean planted area for the 2020/21 crop cycle could be put at risk by the lack of rain in some regions of north Uruguay, an official at the country’s agriculture ministry told AgriCensus on 20 November.

Initial forecasts had stipulated an increase in the soyabean area of approximately 10% compared with the 1M ha planted in the previous cycle, the official said.

“Farmers in Uruguay are expected to plant more soyabean this incoming crop cycle mainly due to the good prices of soyabean.”

However, the lack of water in some regions threatened the potential expansion of the country’s soyabean area.

“There are drought conditions in most of the country’s agricultural regions. However, the scenario is more critical in the northern region, as farmers need to plant soyabean there sooner compared to other regions,” the official added.

Farmers in the south had more time to plant soyabean, he said, although more rains were needed to improve soil conditions.

“There have been some recent rains in the country but these were not enough to improve the scenario,” he said.

It was still too early to provide initial soyabean production estimates for the 2020/21 cycle, he added.

Uruguay exported a total of 1.96M tonnes of soyabeans in the first nine months of the year, with 63% heading to China, compared with 2.27M tonnes in the same period of 2019, when 72% headed to China, according to the local export promotion agency Uruguay XXI.

At 2M tonnes, the 2019/20 soyabean crop in Uruguay was well behind the initial estimate of 3M tonnes, according to government data.

The lower production level had been due to another severe drought that had hit several growing regions in the south of the country.

For the 2020/21 crop season, the United States of Agriculture (USDA) said it expected soyabean production in Uruguay to reach 2.1M tonnes.