South America Calling

Relief Coming to Argentina

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Rainfall will increase in Argentina with a system moving through March 15-17 with and may get into southern Brazil as well. (DTN graphic)

Dryness continues to mount over Argentina. In the last 60 days prior to March 9, almost the entire country is sitting at 70% of normal precipitation or less except for a few pockets where storms have been a little more generous, mostly across the northwestern cotton areas.

Soil moisture remains well-below normal for the majority of the country as well, according to satellite estimates from March 7. The dryness continues to hurt yield prospects for the country, and will continue to deteriorate should the dryness continues.

However, models suggest a good storm system moving through the country March 15-17 that should bring about more widespread rainfall. Amounts are currently indicated to be in the 1- to 2-inch range for much of the country, with some pockets of higher amounts in more potent thunderstorms.

This bodes well for most of the corn and soybean crops that are in the reproductive to filling stages of growth. However, earlier planted fields are closing in on maturity. It is not a large portion of the crop, but for some, the rains are too late to cause much of an impact.

Further north in Brazil, dryness has returned to much of the southern growing regions, much like Argentina. Rainfall has been very off-and-on through the season, including long stretches of dryness. This has led to soil moisture deficits that have been damaging for some of the region.

In contrast, showers over central and northern growing regions has been adequate to surplus in some cases. For Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais and points northward, precipitation has been mostly at or above normal with some isolated pockets of below-normal precipitation over the last 30 days.

This has had a dramatic impact for corn and soybeans, causing CONAB to increase their estimates for the soy crop to 135.13 million metric tons (mmt), up from their previous estimate of 133.8 mmt and their corn estimates up to a record 108.07 mmt, up from their previous estimate of 105.48 mmt. This would include a record safrinha (second-season) corn crop of 82.8 mmt.

The dryness will continue to be a concern across the south as the safrinha corn season continues to ramp up, though it is behind schedule. Increasingly, southern growing regions will be more dependent upon storm systems and fronts moving through instead of daily pop-up type showers. The system that goes through Argentina next week may reach into these southern growing regions in the middle of next week, which would be timely for the newly planted corn.

In central Brazil, pop-up type showers will continue to be the main mode of precipitation gains over the next month or so. And they do look to continue during the next two weeks, though their strength and coverage may not be as heavy or widespread as we have seen over the last couple of months. But overall, the presence of the showers should help to continue favorable prospects for safrinha corn when it is fully planted in the next week or two.

However, the later planting dates that the country has been forced to endure continue to cause concern for these later planted crops getting into the dry season during the reproductive and filling stages of growth, which starts in May.

John Baranick can be reached at


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