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Record-large Brazilian corn crop expectations face yield-cutting dryness

Second half of April seen drier for Brazil’s crops vs. first half of month.

After experiencing a lack of moisture for the soybean growing season and a delayed second-crop corn planting season, Brazil’s farmers are still trying to get a handle on crop conditions.

The country’s soybean harvest is all but completed, but the second-crop corn (known as safrhina) is off to a choppy growing season. 

Rain Relief

In the near term, there may be relief on the way.

Numerous forecast models are indicating continued scattered showers for Brazil’s second-crop corn.

In Mato Grosso state (west-central Brazil) and in the state of Goias, between 0.40 and 1.18 inches of rain are expected to fall this week.

But in some isolated places, even 4.00 inches could fall between today and Friday, according to Pryscilla Paiva, CanalRural’s weather and climate forecast expert.

“However, yield prospects still could be negatively impacted by the irregularity of rainfall distribution and volume,” Paiva told Successful Farming Wednesday. “The southern states of Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul are also areas that have been negatively impacted by low soil moisture caused by lower rainfall rates. Between April 12 and 16, a cold front is being forecasted to advance over the southern coast of Brazil. As a result, forecast models indicate that precipitation may return over this period. Nevertheless, rainfall volume estimates are lower than 1.18 inches, and it can also occur with great irregularity.” 

The second half of April is estimated to be drier than the first one, which may bring concerns to Brazil’s corn growers. “Especially because the 2020-2021 planting seasons were delayed, due to the delay of summer rainfall we had last year. This condition delayed planting summer crops, which delayed the planting of the second corn crop,” Paiva says.

The latest USDA estimates have Brazil’s 2021/22 corn output at 114 million metric tons (mmt.) next year, up from 105 mmt. this season.

On Wednesday, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staff in Brazil released its Grain and Feed Annual report. 

“Post (USDA’s FAS staff in Brazil) still expects Brazil’s marketing year (MY) 2020/21 corn crop will be record-setting, but all eyes will remain on the Brazilian skies in the coming weeks. Ultimately, the volume of precipitation and the length of Brazil’s 2021 rainy season will determine the fate of the MY 2020/21 corn harvest,” the FAS staff report stated.

The FAS staff added, “Despite concerns about yields for late-planted safrinha corn, producers have been be motivated by record-setting corn prices to expand corn acreage even as they are taking a risk on productivity by pushing the growing cycle deeper into the dry season. Strong domestic demand from the poultry and livestock sectors, as well as the growing corn ethanol industry are greatly expanding corn consumption in Brazil and boosting domestic prices as a result. Paired with an abundance of exports, the internal corn price in Brazil hit record highs in recent months and is expected to remain firm throughout 2021.”

For the 2021/22 Brazilian soybean crop, USDA (FAS) sees it at 141 million metric tons (mmt.), up from 134 mmt. this year, due to higher acreage. Brazil’s soybean exports are estimated at 87 mmt., up from 85.0 mmt. this year.

Brazil’s March Weather  

During the end of March, beneficial rain occurred in parts of central and southern Brazil, but dryness dominated other key farming areas, reducing the water available for summer crops still in need of moisture, the CanalRural weather expert says. 

“In Mato Grosso, moderate to heavy rain (1 to 2 inches) was registered in central and northwestern farming areas but near complete dryness was recorded in southeastern agricultural districts. Summer warmth (daytime highs reaching around 86°F.) accompanied the Mato Grosso dryness, further reducing moisture for emerging second-crop corn and vegetative cotton,” Paiva says.

As of March 26, Brazil’s corn planting and soybean harvesting were nearing completion at 99% and 97%, respectively, according to government reports.

Similarly, scattered showers (0.20 to 1.00 inch) from Parana southward through Rio Grande do Sul slowed fieldwork but boosted moisture for late-planted soybeans. 

According to the government of Rio Grande do Sul, soybeans were still 45% flowering to filling on March 25, with 10% harvested; first crop corn, traditionally planted earlier than soybeans, was 64% harvested. 

In Parana, first plantings of soybeans and corn were 75% and 74% harvested, respectively, as of March 22; second-crop corn was 88% planted. 

“Similar to southeastern Mato Grosso, however, unseasonable dryness dominated most remaining farming areas from Mato Grosso do Sul and São Paulo to southern Piauí, where additional moisture was needed for crops including corn, cotton, and sugarcane,” Paiva says. 

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