Heavy rain and flooding in the northern parts of the country due to El Niño have resulted in serious damage to housing and some crops, particularly paddy and cotton. Important localized crop losses and a number of casualties are reported. Weather conditions had benefited harvesting of the 1998 maize crop, which has been interrupted in the affected areas. Satisfactory yields have been so far obtained in all key producing regions, except in southeastern Buenos Aires Province where high temperatures and heavy rains in late March adversely affected the developing crop. Early maize production forecasts point to a historic high of 18.2 million tonnes. Harvesting of the sorghum crop has begun and satisfactory yields are being also gathered. A record 3.8 million tonnes is tentatively forecast. A bumper paddy was anticipated but final outcome will be determined by the damage caused by recent rains.
Fieldwork has started in some parts in preparation for planting of the 1998 wheat crop to be started from June.