South America Calling

IRI Forecast Promising for South America

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Near-normal rainfall is featured for most of Brazil in the latest International Climate Research Institute (IRI) forecast, with southern Brazil and Argentina likely to have above-normal moisture. (IRI graphic)

The Columbia University, New York City-based International Research Institute for Climate and Society (acronym: IRI) has updated its seasonal forecasts for the next four three-month seasons, finishing out the current year 2018 and moving into 2019. Those three-month sets are: November-December-January; December-January-February; January-February-March; and February-March-April. And, the forecast looks promising for the general weather pattern in South America.

The map which illustrates this post has emphasis on the major crop areas of Brazil and Argentina, with the important three-month time frame of November-December-January precipitation forecast noted. This time frame corresponds to May-June-July in the Northern Hemisphere; the Southern Hemisphere season is six months opposite the Northern Hemisphere. And, the precipitation forecast is a favorable-looking one. There is basically no drought indicated for almost all the Brazil and Argentina primary crop areas. There is some dryness potential in far eastern Brazil, but this sector is a minor soybean producer.

Also of note is that southern Brazil and most of Argentina are indicated to be in line for above-normal precipitation. Above-normal precipitation in this sector is a definite marker of El Nino conditions in the Pacific. Indeed, the equator-region Pacific waters are moving steadily into a warmer than normal pattern, with at least a weak El Nino indicated to be in place when the Southern Hemisphere midsummer time line rolls around.

The takeaway item for me is that this forecast supports the early prediction for large crop production in South America in 2018-19. Big numbers are already being talked about, with USDA's projection for Brazil soybean production at more than 120 million metric tons -- a new record; and Brazil corn production at almost 95 mmt -- almost 16% above the 2017-18 crop size. And in Argentina, USDA projects corn output at 41 mmt, close to 30% above the 32-mmt crop this past year; while Argentina's soybean crop is projected at 57 mmt, more than 50% larger than the 2017-18 harvest.

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