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Rainfall chances improving down south

Jeff Caldwell 01/26/2012 @ 9:18am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

There's reason to believe that the dryness that's dominated southern Brazil and Argentina's crop weather over recent weeks could be on the way out, at least temporarily, one forecaster says. That's not to say La Nina is anywhere near its end, though, so it could still set up an up-and-down weather pattern for that major soybean-growing region between now and spring.

Forecasters at the Bethesda, Maryland-based Commodity Weather Group, LLC, say the driver for the change could be a steady cooling of warm Atlantic waters -- a symptom of La Nina in that region -- between now and March, something that could ease the amount of "drying influence" for the South American crop-growing region. That's still a toss-up this early, though, especially with La Nina still with the region firmly in its grip.

"The expectation is that the warm waters off the coast of South America will be slowly fading and this will limit the amount of drying influence," according to CWG. "However, with an ongoing La Nina, the situation will still bear watching, as much of the area will still have a bias to the drier-than-normal side."

From March on, the La Nina dryness could come back just in time to hamper soybean pod-filling. But, beyond that, CWG forecasters say rainfall is likely to fire back up, at least in the northern parts of Brazil, just in time to delay some critical fieldwork.

"Brazil is expected to remain wetter than normal in the northwestern belt over the next two months. This could lead to harvest delays for soybeans and planting delays for corn. If there are too many consecutive days of wetness damage could be incurred for the late harvested soybeans," according to CWG. "The delay in corn planting would be a problem if the dry season set in too early and cut short late development. The only dryness in Brazil remains in the far southern end of the belt where it could reduce soybean yields for up to 10% of the belt."

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