Main crops of Argentina and their participation in the international market
The most important crops in Argentina are soybean, corn, and wheat; Argentina is the world's third largest producer of soybean, fifth of corn and tenth of wheat. Regarding exportations, it is positioned first for soybean oil and flour. Thanks to its extensive territory, soils with a high percentage of organic matter, optimal climate and advanced agronomic practices, high quality grains and excellent yields per hectare are achieved.
The most important crops in Argentina are soybean, corn, and wheat; Argentina is the world’s third largest producer of soybean, fifth of corn and tenth of wheat. Regarding exportations, it is positioned first for soybean oil and flour. Thanks to its extensive territory, soils with a high percentage of organic matter, optimal climate and advanced agronomic practices, high quality grains and excellent yields per hectare are achieved.
The internationalization of soybean began in the 1990s thanks to genetic engineering, that introduced some beneficial features into the crops, such as the rejection of pests, a greater tolerance to herbicides and an increased nutritional quality, which meant a better productive efficiency. Furthermore, the famous RR soybean (resistant to Glyphosate) was introduced in the country. This fact, together with zero tillage and the direct seeding, substantially improved costs and yields. An issue of the Argentine soybean is the low percentage of protein, closely related to the environmental conditions: in years of greater hydric or caloric stress, the losses are greater.
The corn had had seven continuous cycles of production growth in the 90s and was later dislocated by the growth of the soybean cultivated area. Genetic improvements in maize have been successful in modifying the hardness of the endosperm and the percentages of oil, protein, and starch in the grain, as well as the type of starch and protein quality. The typical Argentine corn is “Plata” or flint, and it is characterized as hard and reddish-orange colored. It is highly valued by European countries for its greater degree of hardness, because it is more resistant to breakage during harvesting, loading and unloading in storage, shipping and transportation plants.
Wheat cultivation represents an important part of the Argentine economy, due to its internal use and its export potential. Argentina is mainly producing the variety Triticum aestivum L., also called triticum vulgare, which means the 98.5% of the total wheat produced in the country. Its main destination is the baking industry. It accounts to be a hard wheat with a good gluten strength and a protein rate lower than 11%. More than 6 million hectares of the national territory are allocated for cultivation in each campaign.
In 2022, the Argentine countryside is once again positioned as one of the most important engines of the country’s economy. Forecasts include a total production of grains and oilseeds of 139 million tons, where wheat will contribute with a record production of 22 million tons, barley with 4.6 million tons, sunflower with 3 million tons, sorghum with 3.7 million tons, soybean with 49 million tons, and corn with 57 million tons, being the corn the most produced crop in the country. The promising projections are likely to be conditioned by the severe droughts that affected South America.
Exports of close to 99 million tons of the main grains (corn, soybean) and their derivatives (soybean meal, soybean oil) are projected, which could reach a value of US$ 3,733 million, an increase of US$ 400 million compared to the results achieved in the last period. In 2021, soybean meal was the country’s most exported product (14.2% of the total), being the second one the corn (11%) and soybean oil the third (6.9%).