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BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s corn crop will grow to a record 55 million tonnes in the 2021/22 season, the Buenos Aires grains exchange said on Tuesday, booming on expanded planting area at the expense of 2021/22 soybeans, the country’s main cash crop.

Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soymeal and oil and the second largest of corn. However, farmers have recently been pivoting towards corn from soy due to its greater sowing flexibility that trims the risk of it being affected by drought.

The Buenos Aires exchange estimated a soybean harvest of 44 million tonnes, slightly up from a year earlier, in its annual presentation at the beginning of summer season.

Esteban Copati, head of the Department of Agricultural Estimates at the exchange, pointed out that the corn planting area would grow for the eighth consecutive year to some 7.1 million hectares (17.5 million acres), from 6.6 million hectares in 2020/21.

“This unbroken expansion of the corn area is largely explained by the tools farmers have to mange the crop, the flexible sowing dates, which is a tool that mitigates the impact of climate,” Copati said in a presentation online.

For the 2021/22 season, the exchange expects some impact from the La Niña weather phenomenon, which in the main agricultural regions of Argentina generates drier conditions than usual.

Unlike soybeans, corn has a wider sowing window that allows it to avoid starting key development phases in January and early February, the driest and warmest period of the year.

In the 2021/22 season, the soybean crop would register its sixth consecutive fall in planting area, falling to 16.5 million hectares, from the 16.9 million planted in the 2020/21 season, the exchange said.

However, its harvest would grow to 44 million tonnes, from 43.1 million tonnes in the previous season, explained by the fact that despite the presence of La Niña, the same drought that hit the crop in the 2020/21 season is not expected.

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