South America Calling

Limited Brazil Soil Moisture

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Most primary crop areas in Brazil have short to very short soil moisture; Mato Grosso is the exception. (USDA graphic)

The last six weeks have seen a steady decline in Brazil soil moisture supplies. By the final weekend of April, adequate-to-surplus soil moisture was talked only from northern Mato Grosso north to the Amazon River. From central Mato Grosso south, the profile was dry.

This continues a dry trend that began back in February in southern Brazil and has steadily worked north. The impact of dryness is especially noted in the winter corn (safrinha) crop. The crop is pollinating and going through kernel development and early filling stages and needs moisture. The latest USDA weekly weather and crop bulletin said "this requirement was particularly true in Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul, where corn is nearing or advancing through moisture-sensitive stages of development."

Forecasts for the next 10 days differ in their representation of rain chances for Brazil. The U.S. model indicates rain from far southern Brazil -- Rio Grande do Sul -- through Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul, with a dry pattern farther north and east. The European model is much drier. The European model notably calls for below normal precipitation over almost all the Brazil crop areas. This combination would not be useful for the safrinha corn. In addition, Brazil temperatures are forecast to be from 5 to 10 or more degrees Fahrenheit above normal in the primary safrinha crop areas. With that combination, yield prospects could see a measurable decline.

We have seen how the dry season can bring an adverse impact to the late-season Brazil crops that depend on either sustained rain during the Southern Hemisphere fall season or a late arrival of the dry season. That has not occurred in 2020, and crop estimates may work steadily lower because of that.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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