South America Calling

Below Normal Rains Affect Brazil Soy Belt

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Most crop areas in Brazil received no more than 4 inches of rain over the Jan 11-21 time frame. The average is around 3 inches per week. (Brazil Meteorological Institute graphic)

Below normal rainfall and episodes of above normal temperatures continues to affect filling soybeans. High pressure aloft currently dominates much of the Brazilian soybean belt and promotes this weather pattern.

Current indications are that the ridge will weaken enough over the weekend to allow for some scattered light to moderate showers and thunderstorms with locally heavier in central Brazil.

However, the ridge is expected to strengthen again next week with a return to above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall.

This pattern continues to have the potential to be one of the more significant drought patterns for Brazil in a number of years. This is due to the fact that it is encompassing so much of the soybean belt. We also are seeing signs that Rio Grande do Sul, northeast Argentina and Paraguay, which have been experiencing near to above normal rainfall this month, will experience above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall through the end of the month. This will deplete soil moisture and increase crop stress.

Another aspect of the Brazilian drought that is getting more attention is what happens to the safrinha corn crop. If the drought persists, soil moisture levels could be quite low heading into fall. This would have a major impact on safrinha corn, which depends on abundant rainfall prior to the dry season setting in. We are already hearing comments that producers are holding off on planting corn following the soybean harvest because they are waiting for the rainy season to return. This is a very unusual situation where the normal concerns this time of the year are that conditions are too wet, promoting soybean rust and delaying the harvest.

Recent drier weather in central Argentina has been favorable for developing corn and soybeans where conditions have been too wet. We do see a return to a wet weather pattern during the next seven to 10 days. This will be a less-than-ideal situation, but compared to Brazil, Argentina is in much better shape.

We continue to see an El Nino signature in the weather patterns over both the U.S. and South America, despite a cooling of Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures. (The pattern includes stormy weather in the south-central and eastern U.S., as well as the southern and eastern Midwest, and wet weather in Argentina).

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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