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April 13, 2016

Hot and Dry Weather in Central Brazil could impact Safrinha Corn

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The weather in Brazil has definitely turned dryer over the last several weeks. Meteorologists in Brazil attribute the drying trend to a blocking high pressure situated over southeastern Brazil that is holding up the cold fronts in southern Brazil and preventing them from moving into central Brazil. If you remember back last November and December, it was also a persistent high pressure in southeastern Brazil that led to very dry conditions in central Brazil. Meteorologist are forecasting that the high pressure will start to break down toward the end of April allowing scattered showers to return to central Brazil.

The safrinha corn crop will account for 67.5% of Brazil's total 2015/16 corn production according to Conab's April Crop Report, but the weather in central Brazil has now turned hot and dry, which is bad news for the safrinha corn crop. The weather during much of March was favorable, but it has been hot and dry for the last several weeks and the forecast is for more of the same. The forecast for the next 10 days in most of central Brazil is for temperatures in the range of 90° to 95° with a very low chance of rain.

The earliest planted safrinha corn is past pollination and into mid-grain filling and I think the early planted safrinha corn will be OK. My concern is for the later planted corn that is still in vegetative development and will be pollinating and filling grain under adverse conditions.

This is not going to be a catastrophe for the safrinha corn crop, but instead, a significant trimming of the production. The two biggest producing states of Mato Grosso and Parana are going to do OK. In Mato Grosso there might be a 5% reduction in corn yields due to the dry weather and in Parana, the yields might decline 5-10% due to the dry weather. The biggest decline will be for the later planted corn in Goias, Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Mato Grosso do Sul.

It is unknown if this is the end of the rainy season or not in central Brazil, but every week that it does not rain is another week closer to the dry season. Even if scattered showers did return to central Brazil toward the end of April, I think significant damage will have already been done to the later planted safrinha corn. If this is the end of the rainy season, it will be the earliest end in the last five years.

Conab increased their estimate for the safrinha corn crop by 1.82 million tons this month based mainly on an increase of 182,000 hectares of safrinha corn compared to last month. I think their acreage estimate is now closer to reality, but I think their yield estimates are too high. They estimate the Mato Grosso safrinha corn yields down 1.5% compared to last year, but they have the safrinha corn yields in Parana up 0.7%, Goias up 2.6%, Mato Grosso do Sul up 4.7%, and Brazil in general up 0.9% compared to last year. Conab is now estimating the full-season corn crop at 27.52 million tons with the safrinha corn crop at 57.13 million and the total Brazilian corn crop at 84.65 million.