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Rains arrive, Brazil weather concerns remain

Agriculture.com Staff 09/29/2010 @ 9:09am

CURITIBA, Brazil--Southern Brazil welcomed up to 6.00" of much needed rain over the weekend, as they allowed farmers to resume plantings in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, two major grain growers. In the northern portion of the country, however, rains are still needed in some key soybean and corn areas, such as Mato Grosso. 

An unusually long dry spell, associated with the La NiÑa weather pattern, has set planting back about three weeks in the Brazilian grain belt. Officially, the summer season started on June 15th, but, as of last week, soybean seeding had not yet begun and only 1% of the corn was planted in Brazil. 

"Those farmers who were waiting for the rains to start fieldwork can now begin planting in the southernmost areas of the country, as the weather will favor seeding during the next seven to fifteen days," says Marcio Custodio, a meteorologist with the Somar Institute. The relief, however, will be temporary, he says. Rains will move from south to north of Brazil early October and the southern states may face another drought period. 

“Hot and dry weather will be the pattern during the growing season in South Brazil. We will be under the influence of the La NiÑa over the spring and summer. This does not mean that there will be no rain at all but it usually means below average rains in Parana and Rio Grande do Sul," says Custodio. 

Despite the delay in the summer planting season, the seeding should evolve without any major problems in Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, according to the meteorologist. "Farmers should stay tuned and follow weather forecasts in order to take advantage of any planting window," he recommends. Custodio says the most critical period in those states will be between December and January, when summer crops will be maturing.

In Mato Grosso, Goias and other grain growers states in northern Brazil, La Niña will delay summer rains, Custodio explains. Usually, the rainy season begins mid-September, but his year the first summer rains will probably occur only early October. Initially, precipitation events will be scattered. Regular and widespread rains will fall over the region only in November, according to the meteorologist. “But once they arrive, rains should not be a problem for farmers in those areas during the growing season,” he says. 

To minimize losses, the key is to stagger planting and use different varieties of seed with different cycles. "The farmers can also look back to the 1998/99 season for direction, as that was also a La Niña year. Try to remember what went right and what went wrong in that year in deciding what to to do this year," he says.

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Luana Gomes

Agribusiness Editor 

Gazeta do Povo – RPC, a Brazilian media company


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