5th Peanut Crop Report as per March 4th 2023
In this 5th Peanut Crop Report, the general state of the peanut crop is in a range from regular to good for most of the planted area.
When comparing it with the previous report, we perceive that the general conditions vary between fair and good instead of very good to excellent. The lack of rainfall over the last month has generated great concern among all the players in the peanut sector in Argentina. This, added to the high temperatures and the frost that occurred on February 18, harmed the summer crops that are defining their yield. Peanuts are going through a period of very marked seasonal drought just at the time of greatest water demand, when vegetative growth should be maximized, thus consolidating yield potentials. As a result of the general lack of rain, added to the high temperatures of the last few weeks, some fields, mainly located in the West, Central and North zones, began to show losses in productive potential and delays in vegetative development.
Making a detailed analysis, the situation in the different areas of our reference map is somewhat heterogeneous. The most compromised area continues to be the West, made up of the West of the province of Córdoba and the East of the province of San Luis. Some losses are estimated there that, at this point, would be irreversible. The rest of the areas, however, are in better conditions, but with very particular situations.
The Central and North zones present regular conditions, since they were planted late, so yield expectations would be optimistic if rains occur immediately, otherwise, the losses will be irreversible. The East and Center-South zones present a positive panorama, due to the reserve of water accumulated in the soils; This situation allows the crop to access soil water reserves, but urgent rains are also needed to consolidate the projected yields. Finally, the southern zone presents good but irregular conditions, with urgent need for rain.
Compared to the state of the peanut crop in the last report, the situation has deteriorated, although the temporary drought condition is reversible in some cases, as long as significant rainfall is recorded in a short time (maximum 10 days).
The forecast for the next few days is quite discouraging, as it indicates little chance of rain in the coming week as well as once again extreme temperatures. According to the SMN, a new heat wave will enter (ninth in the year) that would bring high temperatures throughout the peanut area; temperatures would reach 38/39ºC, with serious consequences for crops.
The current condition of the crop, according to the survey of our team of agronomists, is the following:
The comparison with the survey detailed in the last report shows the deterioration in the general condition of the crop in the last month:
• Excellent: 10% (current) vs 10% (last month)
• Very good: 10% vs 35%
• Good: 35% vs. 40%
• Regular: 35% vs. 10%
• Bad: 10% vs. 5%
We are in the period of greatest demand for water required by the crop. The crop in general is in the R5 phenological stage (beginning of seed filling), so the need for rain is urgent in order to maintain the yield structure achieved so far. We call this stage of the crop “Determinant”, since it is where the future yields of the campaign are defined.
During the second week of February, precisely on February 18, there was an ingress of polar air from the southern sector, causing a significant drop in temperatures below 2/3ºC, causing agrometeorological frosts in almost the entire peanut-growing area. These produced damage to the leaf area, causing a 30% reduction in the aerial part. Quantifying the impact of thermal lows on crops is hasty since more time is required to evaluate the evolution of the different pictures, it is possible that there is subclinical damage that we are not seeing.
The effect varies from farm to farm: the planting dates, the state of development of the crop, the altitude of the farm influence. Likewise, we insist that the basic problem continues to be the drought, since, in a normal year, these thermal lows that we had would not be a problem, or would represent a minimal loss of upper leaves and some knots.
With respect to frost, and if we look at our reference map of peanut crops, we can differentiate different areas with different damage caused:
• West of Córdoba and East of San Luis: severely affected.
• Central-South Zone: affected.
• East and Central Zone: slightly affected.
• North Zone: slightly affected.
As of the date of preparation of the report, we are not clear about the percentage of losses caused, but we perceive that the decrease will be considerable if we compare it with the 20/21 crop.
The drought that we have been going through since November (2022) to date, added to the extreme temperatures, favored the appearance, in a large part of the province, of pests such as spider mites. As a comment, three applications of insecticides have already been made to control the pest. These are palliative controls since, under current conditions, it is almost impossible to carry out efficient and effective control.
Images of the frost that occurred on February 18 (above: little leaf damage-below: more leaf damage (lower areas of the lots)).
Our reference map of peanut production areas
The main peanut areas in Argentina include the provinces of Córdoba, La Pampa, San Luis and Buenos Aires.
Analysis of rainfall and temperatures
After February, the accumulated rains over the core region barely reach between 10 and 50% of the statistical mean monthly values. The average values for the region range from 90 to 120 mm (from west to east).
Meteorological projections are not optimistic in terms of the possibility of rainfall that will allow the negative balance of February to be reversed. The forecasts indicate that we will not have significant contributions of water until the second week of March, so if the model is fulfilled, March is on track to join the list of months with deficit rainfall.
Since the date of the last harvest evolution report, no new rains have been recorded throughout the peanut-growing area. Although February presents records of isolated rains, these occurred during the first week of February, which is why they had already been considered in the previous report. From that point on, rainfall was little to none for almost all areas on our reference map. This situation contributed to deteriorate the general condition of the peanut.
The West, Central and South zones did not receive precipitation, producing accumulated records much lower than the historical average for this time of the year. Although no rainfall was recorded in the rest of the areas after the first week of February, the crop is in better condition, given that the water reserves in the soil are larger, which makes it possible to alleviate the lack of rain of the last weeks. It should be noted that the rainfall in these areas during February is among the lowest recorded in 60 years.
In the following image you can see that February ended with low rainfall records in all departments of the province. Rainfall was recorded the first 10 days of the month and, subsequently, a pronounced shortage.
Regarding the thermal records, we can say that, in the last month, there has been an intense heat wave, with temperatures above the historical records for this time of year. In many locations in the peanut-growing area, temperatures of 33°C were consistently recorded, the effect of which caused a condition of thermal stress added to the previously reported water stress.
Useful water distribution in Córdoba
The maximum retention capacity or “field capacity” implies that the extraction of water by the crops occurs without any difficulty. Between the field capacity and the permanent wilting point is the range of what we call useful water in the arable layer.
The figure shows that, for January in the peanut area, the average values of AU are at the lowest values recorded, this is called extreme drought and wilting.
We can notice the great difference in useful water in the soils on the same date, but in a different month. Source: FAUBA.
Change of water balance every 10 days
Representation of the low temperatures that occurred on February 18
Extended forecast trends
The following image shows the ENSO simulation model, showing the probability of precipitation and temperatures. In the month of February (2023), it can be observed that, according to the model, a neutral month would be presented, influenced by the Niño phenomenon, obviously they are probabilistic models, since we can currently observe the continuity of the La Niña phenomenon.
According to the model, La Niña would begin to move away in the month of April. And, as of March 2023, a neutrality, with a marked incidence of the El Niño phenomenon over that of the La Niña.
Therefore, the model continues to indicate that we would have a climatically accurate end of the season in terms of rainfall. (see fig 1.).
Projected field tasks
In relation to the treatments with fungicides, the second application has already been carried out in a general way, a third one was suspended until the climatic conditions change and generate humid conditions that favor the appearance of symptoms that indicate the need to carry out a new preventive application of fungicides.
Plot monitoring for weed control continues in all areas of our reference map. Due to prevailing water stress, applications with insecticides to control spider mites were intensified. In many cases, producers had to make more than three or four applications due to the high incidence of this pest.
On the contrary, due to the current drought condition, the Sclerotinia Sp disease, which we reported in the previous report, has stopped its advance.
Peanut plants affected by spider mit
If something was missing to complete the negative course of three consecutive campaigns dominated by an intense drought, it was the additional stress suffered by crops as they endured, with extreme water scarcity, the abrupt change from a heat wave to a marked drop in temperature in less than One week.
The very high maximum temperatures of Sunday, February 12, gave way to the entry of a strong southern circulation that led to the entry of a much colder air mass than usual, more in line with an autumn circulation than typical of the second month of the year. The GEA (Strategic Guide for Agro-BCR) report on Thursday 2/16 reported that the region’s crops had been subjected to temperatures above 31 °C for more than 50 hours (between Tuesday 7 and Monday 13 February). The maximum records exceeded 38 °C. But in just three days, temperatures plummeted and the lows that were recorded at the beginning of the long carnival weekend (Saturday 18) did not exceed 5 °C in the region. The lowest marks were close to 2ºC, and the extreme value took place in Hernando, Córdoba with 1.2ºC.
But as if this were not enough, it is expected that for the next few days the temperatures will rise to values above 38º/39ºC, a situation recently seen on this date. Therefore, we consider that it will be a knockout for the crops since it constitutes a new source of stress, which have suffered in this campaign not only the damage of continuous heat waves and the lack of rain, but also an unusual super early frost that occurred in midsummer.
It is worth remembering that this is the third consecutive cycle with the presence of the La Niña phenomenon, and that the rainfall deficit deepened as of autumn 2022, becoming the worst drought in 60 years in some regions of the country.
Already in March, the yield potential of the crop begins to take shape, so it is essential that the rainfall accompany it during the next 15 days, in order to consolidate the future yields of this campaign.
As of the date of preparation of this report, 56% of peanuts are in an advanced reproductive state (R5), 38% are in a complete inshell state (R4), and 6% are in an early reproductive state (R3 ).
Throughout the last month in Argentina, the condition of the new peanut crop has deteriorated as a result of the lack of rain in the last 4 weeks, as well as the heat wave with temperatures much higher than normal for this time of year.
Although the general condition can be classified as regular to good, there is an urgent need to receive rain in the coming days, in order to reverse the reported hydric stress condition. The situation is especially worrying in the western, central and northern areas of the peanut area, which has received the least amount of rain throughout the season, so irreversible losses can already be foreseen, given that some farms may not be uprooted ( drought and frost). The rest of the areas present a better condition, helped by the rains that occurred during January and the first 10 days of February, in addition to the contribution of groundwater tables.
In order to consolidate the productive yields of the new peanut crop in Argentina, one last rain of important and widespread records is needed in the coming days. The forecast predicts unstable conditions that could lead to the much-needed rains. If this were the case, in general terms we could talk about a good 2023 peanut harvest in Argentina, but it will in no way repeat the results of the 20-21 campaign. On the other hand, if there are no significant rains in the coming weeks, the projected yields will have to be adjusted very downward and the quality of the peanuts could be compromised.
Yesterday March 6th we had a general rainfall in most of the area but with very diverse records going from 3 mm till 40 mm.
Images of the crop in the different productive zones;