Argentine Peanut Crop Report
Season 2020/2021 – #3
In general terms, climatic conditions reported in the previous edition of this report prevail. Rains continue to be lower than expected for this time of year in most of the peanut area. However, rainfall of varying intensity and magnitude was recorded, mainly in the southern and eastern areas. As of today, the northern area is the most affected in terms of water deficit.
In a few days we will enter the period of greatest demand for water by the crop (full flowering stage), so normal temperatures and important rains to overcome water deficits will be crucial to achieve good results.
Main Peanut Area Map
The main peanut area in Argentina includes the provinces of Cordoba, La Pampa, San Luis and Buenos Aires. In general terms, it can be divided as follows:
Rainfall and Temperature Analysis
As mentioned before, November finished with a marked water deficit in most of the Argentine peanut area. The image below shows cumulative rainfall throughout the month in the Cordoba province.
Towards December, although not widely spread, rainfall of varying intensity was recorded in different peanut areas. Between the second and the third week of December, important storms were recorded over the south of our reference map, which covered the east and south of Cordoba, as well as the provinces of La Pampa and Buenos Aires. Some localities registered rains above 90 mm.
In the South of the Cordoba province, considerable damage was reported due to strong winds and hail. Peanut plants located in the affected fields lost almost 50% of their leaves, although agronomists believe that a full recovery is possible.
Damage as a result of hail in the south of the Cordoba province
On December 28th, a new important storm was received with enthusiasm by the entire peanut industry. Rainfall was intense and widely spread. The eastern area was the most benefited one, achieving records over 60 mm in some localities. Average rainfall hovered around 20 – 45 mm for the entire peanut area. Needless to say, this new rain helped to improved soil moisture levels considerably and it is very important considering that the period of greatest water demand is yet to come.
Regarding temperatures, during November and part of December, night records did not exceed 18 °C, which generated a significant decrease in the crop growth rate (CGR). It is important to consider that the physiological growth of peanuts is interrupted at temperatures below 18 °C. However, night temperatures rose above 18 °C in recent weeks, so a recovery in the CGR was evidenced. The current figures are optimal for the peanut crop to continue its growth cycle.
Available Water Content in Cordoba
The maximum retention capacity or “field capacity” implies that the extraction of water by the vegetables occurs without any difficulty. Between the field capacity and the permanent wilting point there is the range of what we call useful water in the arable layer.
The following figure shows that, towards the end of November in the peanut area, the average values are between 10% and 20% of useful water in the arable layer (temporary drought condition). As can be seen in the graph, moisture levels deteriorated significantly in relation to the values recorded at approximately the same date of 2019. Source: FAUBA.
Available Water Content in Argentina as of December 21st, 2020 vs situation as of November 24th, 2020
The image above doesn’t show an improvement in the AW (available water) from last month to the present, although the most recent rainfall is not included in the analysis.
There is concern among peanut farmers since the pre-sowing and pre-emergent herbicides did not show the expected effectiveness in controlling weeds. We deduce that, in the absence of rain, they were not properly incorporated into the soil.
Peanut Crop Phenological State
Nowadays, peanuts are in early vegetative stages (V4 – R1). It is observed that peanuts sown earlier already have an interesting production of flowers, while in those peanut lots sown later, flowering is expected to begin in the next few weeks. A positive response to current environmental conditions is evidenced, despite the previously reported water deficit.
Peanut Development Stages
V1: first tetrafoliolate leaf
V2: second tetrafoliolate leaf
V3: third tetrafoliolate leaf
V4: fourth tetrafoliolate leaf
V – (N): one to N developed nodes on main axis
R1: beginning bloom
R2: beginning peg
R3: beginning pod
R4: full pod
R5: beginning seed
R6: full seed
R7: beginning maturity
R8: harvest maturity
After the analysis and the information presented before, we conclude that the peanut crop is in a fair to good condition nowadays and improving rapidly in the last couple of weeks. Rains received in December helped alleviate the water deficit and increased the soil reserves for the important stages that are coming in the following weeks.The crop could recover from those days in which the crop growth rate was low and is now experiencing suitable conditions to achieve full growth. Agronomists expect that the flowering stage will become generalized in the entire peanut area in the coming weeks. As of the date of this report, the most challenging situation is presented in the northern area, whereas the south and central areas are doing comparatively better.
Comparing the present situation to last year at the same period of time, we see that the sowing tasks were achieved much faster than last year. The entire sowing stage lasted 47 days this year, whereas last year it took 60 days. It is worth recalling that sowing was delayed this year due to the lack of rain so, being able to sow at a faster pace was beneficial to complete the sowing tasks withing the optimal time frame (before November 30th).
Rains received during December are important to increase water reserves but by no means are enough to guarantee a good development in the coming months. Therefore, it’s critical for the crop to continue receiving rains in the next months. The productive potential of the 2021 crop will start shaping in the next couple of months. If we consider the extended forecast models presented in previous reports (ENSO models), La Niña is expected to prevail during the first quarter of 2021, which means that erratic rainfall is likely to occur in the main peanut area.
It’s still too early to draw significant conclusions but, provided weather conditions are suitable during the coming months, Argentine peanut companies and everyone involved in this business expect another good crop that helps the peanut industry to continue the growth path started several years ago.
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