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April 14, 2016

Dry Weather Worries Safrinha Corn Producers in Brazil

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

Brazilian farmers who planted their safrinha corn after the ideal window had closed in late February are becoming very concerned about the hot and dry weather that has moved into central Brazil over the last several weeks. A blocking high pressure situated over southeastern Brazil is preventing moisture from moving into the central part of Brazil.

The area of greatest concern are the states of Goias, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Sao Paulo. In Goias for example, the municipality of Jatai, which is located in the southwestern part of the state, has been over two weeks without a rain with temperatures above normal. In some of the driest areas of the state of Minas Gerais, it has been 20-25 days without rain. Unfortunately, the soil moisture is quickly diminishing and there is very little rain in the forecast until maybe at the end of the month. Even then, the rainfall is expected to be widely scattered and light.

The state of Mato Grosso is the largest safrinha corn producing state in Brazil and farmers there are starting to get concerned as well. The weather in the state during March was beneficial for corn development, but it has defiantly turned dryer since the first of April. The earlier planted corn should still do fine, but concern is mounting for the later planted corn.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) estimates that 35% of the safrinha corn in the state was planted during the month of March (1.21 million hectares of the 3.48 million hectares). This is significantly after the closing of the ideal planting window on February 25th. The latest corn was planted one month after the ideal planting window closed and it is the latest planted corn that is most at risk from the dry weather.

In April of 2015, the rainfall in northern Mato Grosso was over 250 mm (10 inches). For this April, the forecast is for 70 mm of rain (2.8 inches) for the entire month. The forecast for the southeastern part of the state is even dryer with 50 mm forecasted for the month (2 inches). In general, the safrinha corn crop in the state requires 120 to 130 mm of rainfall during April (4.8 to 5.2 inches).

For the last several months, meteorologists in Brazil have been warning that the rainy season may wind down in April, which is in contrast to the last several years when the rains continued through the end of May. The extended rainy season during the last several years resulted in record high corn yields in the state. If the current dry pattern persists, it is expected that estimates of the Brazilian corn crop will decline going forward.