Argentina expects higher yields in onions, but the market remains quiet

Argentina is at the end of the land-days onion cycle for its latitude, so the country can start evaluating the production and drawing some conclusions regarding the product's availability, quality, and volume.
The 2015/16 campaign had serious post-harvest quality issues, mainly because many batches were affected by bacterial diseases, so producers lost up to 50% of their supply. In turn, market prices only started to rebound in June when there was almost no quality to supply the demand. The economic result for the producers that produce an average of 1500 bags/ha wasn't encouraging.
There were no episodes of significant rainfall during the winter, which facilitated the preparation of soils in a timely manner, so there was a minor delay in the average planting date throughout the region, when compared to previous years. By late September, the vast majority of the fields had already been sown so the season had a good start. As in the previous year, there was a shortage of insecticide granules for planting, which is a fundamental input for this crop, as it is very difficult to control the onion maggot without them. The onion maggot is a major pest that affects the onions at the beginning of the cycle, so the lack of this input forces producers to increase the amount of post-planting applications to control this pest.
There were no important rains in the months of October and November, which allowed producers to get the weeds under control early.
This year prices for fertilizers, mainly diammonium phosphate and urea, were stable, so crops were well taken care of.
There were no rains in December and January which, combined with high temperatures, led to water shortages on plots located on tertiary canals, or at the end of the canals. This in turn has led to densely cultivated plots yielding lower commercial sizes than the plots with a normal density (500,000 plants/ha).
The lack of rain meant there were no foliar diseases, like downy mildew, at the end of cycle, so the onions produced have a good leaf health. Several plots were seriously affected by heavy hailstorms in General Conesa on December 4 and in the lower Valley on January 23; some plots suffered heavy losses.
This dry and hot year favored the incidence of thrips, the most important pest at the end of the cycle, which meant the frequency of insecticide applications has significantly increased, a fact that forces the rotation of different active ingredients to prevent pest resistance to such products.
There have been rains in February and they could get heavier, which could lead to postharvest quality issues caused by bacterial problems.
There wasn't a visible increase in the production area this campaign, but producers expect an increase in the average yield due to the conditions during cultivation. However sizes aren't expected to be too big, as there will be abundant medium and small sized onions.
The market is all very calm and there are very little advance purchases, which indicates that it will be a difficult year for marketing.
Source: EEA Valle Inferior


Publication date: 2/14/2017