There was a nice window of opportunity for fieldwork last week before showers closed it this past weekend. However, Patria AgroNegocios estimates that as of Feb. 12, the soybean harvest is nowhere near complete in Brazil. Producers are working hard in Mato Grosso, where 22% of the crop has been harvested, but less than 10% has been harvested across the rest of the main growing regions. This puts the total soybean estimate for the entirety of Brazil at just 8.7%, well-behind the average of 24.6% for this time of year.
Where the window for fieldwork has been open the longest, across Parana south to Rio Grande do Sul, soybean harvest stands at just 4% or less in each state. The window reopened in this region this week as weekend showers have since dissipated, and this window looks to stay open into next week.
However, a front will move through Feb. 23-24 with scattered showers and amounts totaling 20 to 40 millimeters (roughly 0.75 to 1.50 inches) on average. This moderate rainfall will help producers that do get second-season (safrinha) corn into the ground and for any immature corn and soybeans. Models indicate that dryness will return behind this front going into March. This will be a big benefit to fieldwork, but the dryness will be a concern for crops going forward. This is especially true as mid-range models indicate continued dryness in this region into March, especially for Rio Grande do Sul.
Soil moisture in this region is still lacking. Satellite estimates from Feb. 14 indicate that almost all of the region has limited or insufficient soil moisture, less than 40% of capacity. NDVI (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), an indicator of crop health, shows that fields are greener than normal, but this may indicate that crops are still behind normal developmentally, as the season started roughly two weeks late.
Going back to Mato Grosso and the surrounding areas, which produce much more safrinha corn, daily showers have been a constant thorn in the side of producers trying to get soybeans out of the field and corn into the ground. The completion percentage of 22% in Mato Grosso is encouraging, however, and points to the nature of the popup showers in the region as opposed to widespread steady rainfall.
Some producers are finding some occasional windows within the daily showers. However, the continued nature of the popup showers will keep those windows shorter and producers guessing on whether or not they can get it done on a particular day.
Showers do not look to abate during the next week and will likely continue into March, keeping pressure on producers as the favorable window for planting continues to close. The further in time producers wait, whether they are forced to or not, the higher the risk will be for the crop to be in the reproductive-to-filling stages as the spigots of the rainy season shut off.
The favorable aspect of the showers, of course, is for that 22% that has harvested and likely planted their safrinha crop. Soil moisture, which had been a concern going into January, has more-or-less reversed for much of the area. There are still some pockets of dryness, especially in Mato Grosso do Sul, which aligns more closely with Parana than Mato Grosso, but overall the moisture situation has improved. The safrinha corn already in the ground should find favorable conditions for growth, at least for the next two weeks or so.
Models become mixed with regard to precipitation as we head into March. The European model solutions point more toward periods of widespread showers for the month, while the American solutions are more focused from southern Mato Grosso to Parana but little either north or south.
In Argentina, dryness has taken over the region during the last week. There have been some popup showers here and there, but amounts have been below normal for the entire area outside of eastern Buenos Aires.
The outlook during the next two weeks is fairly similar. There will be a couple of fronts that move through the country during the next seven to 10 days, offering brief showers, but the showers look to be isolated and localized with lower-than-normal amounts.
Immature corn and soybeans still in the reproductive-to-fill stages will not be happy about the lack of moisture as temperatures remain in the upper 20s to middle 30s Celsius, keeping evapotranspiration rates high.
For mature crops, as harvest begins in the northeast, conditions will be more favorable for harvest. However, those producers looking for a safrinha crop will be dealing with dryness. Weather models continue to show dry weather well through March and possibly April, a time when chances for showers and rainfall amounts begins to drop anyway.
John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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