Ag Weather Forum

Heat, Dryness May Stress Brazil's Winter Corn Crop

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Connect with Bryce:
Much-below-normal rainfall the last 10 days of March may be the start of the dry season in central Brazil. (USDA FAS graphic)

OMAHA (DTN) -- As farmers in Brazil wind down their soybean harvest, many operators turn around and plant corn for a second crop. This second crop, known as "winter corn" or "safrinha," has had some favorable seasons the last couple years, due to rainfall staying around well into the reproductive time frame of May and June.

This year, however, may be different. The final stretch of March saw very little rain in the central crop belt of Brazil, mostly in Mato Grosso. That trend is getting the attention of weather forecasters.

"It looks like the pattern is going to stay dry for a while, with the only rain showing up in the 10- to 15-day period," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino.

The big issue with a drier trend is that Mato Grosso's climate pattern features a rainy season and a dry season. The timing of the dry season is critical to the safrinha corn crop; if the rain shuts off before pollination, yields will likely be lower.

Up to this point, rainfall has not been a problem. Corn that was planted in February has a productive outlook.

"Generally speaking, the idea is that the center-west second-crop corn is in good shape ... and crops planted in the recommended window only need a couple more rains to ensure a good crop," said DTN South America Correspondent Alastair Stewart. "The problem ... is that much more corn than usual was planted in March and those fields need the wet period to extend."

The reason for March planting is a dry beginning to Mato Grosso's farming season at the end of 2015. "Because of the drought last October-November, we had a delay on soy planting season, (and) that influenced the corn planting ..." Ricardo Manoel Arioli Silva, a Mato Grosso producer, said in an e-mail to DTN. "So, a bigger corn area than normal was planted after what we consider the 'right window' for corn. Even if we have good rain in April-May, we have more corn acres at risk."

Palmerino believes that forecasts from now on will command very close attention. "This is not a situation where the climatology turns wetter further down the road," he said. "It's just the opposite with the climatology turning drier. And, the more that it doesn't rain when it should, the higher the chance for problems continuing on."

That potential for drier conditions, of course, has not kept producers from planting the second-crop corn. "The only way to win the lottery is to buy the ticket. Buying the ticket for us is having the corn planted and expecting enough rain," Arioli Silva said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @BAndersonDTN




To comment, please Log In or Join our Community .