Argentine Peanut Crop Report
Season 2020/2021 – #5
As we approach the end of the summer in the south hemisphere, the current state of the peanut crop in Argentina is good to very good for most of the planted area. Although rains were good during January and the first half of February, there were no important rainfall records during the second half of February, generating a heterogeneous situation in the different areas defined in our map, as well as within different fields in the same area.
In this context, we can clearly differentiate two groups: peanut fields that are in a good shape and have achieved a good development so far on the one hand, and peanut fields that exhibit a marked water deficit and are in desperate need of new rains on the other. The difference between these two groups is given by the existing water reserves in the soils as well as by scattered passing storms that could have benefited some fields but not others.
In the following figure, the general state of the crop according to the professional criteria of Gastaldi’s agronomists is presented:
If we compare the current state to the one described in the previous report, the peanut crop has worsened its condition. However, at this point of time, the drought stress is still fully reversible in most cases, provided good rains are recorded in the following 7 – 10 days. According to the weather forecasts though, rains shouldn’t be expected for the coming days so, considering that the crop is in a stage of highest water demand, yields and quality could be jeopardized.
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 it was mentioned before, very scarce rains were recorded after February 17th in general terms, although the South-Central, Western and Southern areas were the most affected ones. Current records in those areas are well below historical averages for this time of the year, making them the most compromised and under-developed areas in Argentina. Although no significant rainfall was recorded in the other areas, the crop there is in better condition, given that the water reserves in the soil were larger, which allowed to mitigate the lack of rainfall in recent weeks. On the other hand, it is worth noting that some fields located mainly in the Northern area were planted later, so water demands are not as high as in the rest of the areas in which the crop is in full reproductive development. The following image show the climatic events and the accumulated rainfall in the Cordoba province:
Regarding the thermal records, there has been an intense heat wave in the peanut area in the last month, with temperatures well above the historical records for this time of year. In many towns in the peanut area, temperatures above 35 °C were consistently recorded, which increased the effect of the lack of rain on the crop and added a thermal stress to the already reported water stress.
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 5% and 20% of useful water in the arable layer (critical seasonal drought condition). As can be seen in the graph, moisture levels deteriorated significantly in relation to the figure from a month ago. Source: FAUBA.
Although the situation clearly worsened from one month to another, the reported situation could be fully reversed if new rains arose to the peanut area in the coming days.
Herbicide treatments for weed control continue in all areas of our reference map. In addition, weeding hoes are being used to control those weeds that escape chemical treatments.
Due to the prevailing water stress, insecticide applications were intensified to control spider mites. In many cases, farmers had to apply more than three doses due to the high incidence of this pest.
Another situation to report is the incidence of the Sclerotinia Sp disease, which is progressing at worrying levels. It is estimated that numerous peanut lots from different areas will need to be dug before completing their phenological cycle. This means that peanuts would be dug in an immature state, reducing yields and making them more prone to quality problems. We are closely monitoring the progression of the disease to determine the right actions to minimize losses. It should be noted that there is no treatment to stop the progression of the disease so, once established in the crop, it can’t be fully eradicated.
Peanut Crop Phenological State
The peanut crop is undergoing an active growth stage in those fields in which water reserves were higher. As of the date of this report, 15% of peanuts are in an advanced reproductive state (R5), 53% are in a complete full pod state (R4), and 15% are in an early reproductive state (R3).
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 all the information presented, we conclude that the peanut crop is in a good condition nowadays and remains a very good project, although yield expectations could go down if new rains are not recorded in the next 7 – 10 days.
The outlook is especially worrying in the Western and Southern areas, mainly towards the west of the Cordoba province and the east of the San Luis province, which have received the least amount of rains throughout the season. At this point of time, irreversible losses could be expected in those areas, since some peanut fields may not be able to be dug due to the reported drought as well as due to the great progress of the sclerotinia sp disease. The other areas present a better outlook, greatly aided by the heavy rains that occurred during January and the first half of February.
Although the productivity of the crop is not irreversibly affected at the moment, the peanut plants are already expressing clear signs of stress due to drought. The next few weeks will shape the expectations regarding yields and productivity.
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