South America Calling

Safrinha Planting Window Opening

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
A front moving through Brazil will stall from Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais with clearing behind it. Conditions will improve for soybean harvest and safrinha corn planting over the next several days. (DTN graphic)

Harvest of soybeans has been slower than normal so far this season. Estimates from CONAB put harvest at just 2%, below the 9% recorded a year ago. This is due in part from the late planting in October and the frequent rains during the last two weeks, which have been heavy at times.

That changes for some of the region this week. A front continues to push northward through Brazil, but will stall from Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais this weekend, focusing showers in that region and points northward into next week. Southern areas from Rio Grande do Sul to southern portions of Mato Grosso and Goias will see a favorable dry window to allow soils to settle and continue with the harvest.

With a delayed start to the main season, producers will work quickly to try and get the safrinha (second season) corn in the ground as soon as possible, as to avert risk from the drier portions of the winter. We are likely to see a large increase in both soybean harvest and corn planting due to this. The wetness in northern areas likely will cause further delays although it will increase subsoil moisture.

That window may not be open very long either. Models suggest scattered showers will return to the majority of the region late next week and weekend, remaining mixed on where showers will be the following week. Though models hint dryness may return to southern growing areas, that may not work out as forecast.

If producers see what I am seeing, they will be quick to jump on this window as they may not get another good one for a while, at least not in central growing areas. With soil moisture continuing to be near to above normal at the surface, but below normal in the subsurface for much of the region, time will continue to slip away toward the dry season. Having corn go into reproduction with limited subsoil moisture, limited showers, and temperatures in the upper 20s to 30s Celsius (80s Fahrenheit) would likely cause reduced yields. With safrinha corn being 75% of the corn production in Brazil, that could put increased pressure on markets.

In Argentina, moderate showers during the last week have been highly beneficial to corn and soybeans. It has not showed up in the satellite estimates of crop health, but those estimates are through Jan. 24, before the recent stretch of rainfall. The front that is moving through Brazil will leave the country quiet through at least the weekend. Showers may develop next week, but look to be spotty overall. This may be enough for some areas to continue improving while others could see some conditions trend downward.

Looking ahead for Argentina, models remain mixed. The American models favor more rainfall than their European counterparts. It would be hard to trust the American suite due to the recent setup and weakening La Nina, favoring a drier forecast through February and possibly into March, which would cause increased concern about their yields as they continue to fill.

John Baranick can be reached at


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