Peanuts: Argentina’s Misery Drags On – Yield, Quality Issues

Photo: Doug Mayo, University of Florida

Argentina’s peanut harvest continues to drag on. Progress and crop conditions have been hampered by cold and cloudy weather and foggy or misty conditions in the early mornings.

Peanuts have been arriving at storage and shelling plants with kernel moisture levels running well above those recorded weeks ago. Drying has been necessary.

Yield variability continues to be a focus of conversations. Several farmers in the central and south-central region said that their yields had run as high as 4,500 kg/hectare of in-shell peanut, while in other nearby fields, peanut yields did not exceed 800 kg/hectare.

This undoubtedly shows the adverse effects of a strong drought that hung over most of Argentina’s peanut production area during a considerable part of the season. Along with cutting yields, the drought forced growers to abandon some fields.

Quality Issues Arise, Too

Quality problems also have been associated with this season’s extreme weather, especially the unusually wet weather that followed the drought late in the season. We have been expressing concerns about that. Today, government agencies have confirmed this unfortunate trend.

Effects of the drought were further compounded by the wet, cold and cloudy conditions across several weeks in April and May.

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Yield potential fell more than 45% across a wide area and will force growers into hard decisions about planting intentions for the upcoming crop and how they will manage costs.

Argentina’s peanut industry has not seen this level of problems in a number of years. Farmers’ financial positions will be further strained by higher production costs relating to the drought and adverse harvest conditions.

The official estimates put the average yield of in-shell peanut at no more than 2,000 to 2,100 kg/ha. At this point, harvest is 70% to 75% completed, we estimate.

Waiting For Drier Weather

Growers are waiting for drier weather so that they can wrap up the remaining harvest as fast as possible. At Georgalos Peanut World, we estimated the 2017/18 crop will finish with 423,000 hectares. Going with an average yield estimate of 2,000 to 2,100 kg/hectare of in-shell peanuts, the crop will total 850,000 to 890,000 MT.

As noted, the combination of drought and soggy harvest weather has clearly hurt quality. Problems include internal and external mold, sprouting, frozen kernels and kernels with some degree of aflatoxin.


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