wheat field harvest
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA — Argentina wheat production is forecast at a historic high of 20 million tonnes in 2018-19, according to a May 3 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The USDA also predicted record wheat exports for the coming crop year at 14.2 million tonnes.

It said farmers could expand wheat planting area to 6.2 million hectares, the highest acreage in 11 years, depending on weather conditions.

“Experts agree that the drier La Niña pattern is fading, after the worst drought in 50 years, to a more normal moisture cycle,” the USDA said.

Despite the dryness, the USDA pegs 2017-18 wheat output in Argentina at 18.4 million tonnes because of an estimated larger harvested area, now at 5.7 million hectares.

The USDA also noted that the use of wheat for flour exports has been expanding in response to a government policy change that eliminated restrictions on wheat and flour exports. The country is currently exporting 1 million tonnes of flour (wheat equivalent).

Corn production also is expected to rebound in 2018-19, the report said. The USDA pegs output at 40 million tonnes, which if realized would be the second highest volume in history and 9 million tonnes larger than the drought-impacted 2017-18 crop.

Harvested area is expected to increase 100,000 hectares to a record 5.2 million hectares, the USDA said.