Across Brazil, scattered showers developed from Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais last weekend and continued for much of this week. The rain has been very welcome as dryness sneaked into the region during the previous two weeks.
After some favorable rainfall months in January, February, and into early March, the USDA and Brazil agencies put out aggressive forecasts for the total and safrinha (second-season) corn production, banking on full soil profiles to sustain the crop, even though it was planted unfavorably late.
Dryness during the past two weeks allowed producers to finish soybean harvest and planting of the safrinha corn. But the dryness lasted a bit too long and the forecast for April turned dry as well, sparking concern over those record production forecasts not living up to their potential.
Dryness has extended over southern Brazil recently as well. Precipitation during the last week have been almost completely absent except for a few isolated patches across Parana south through Rio Grande do Sul. Showers have been more erratic here during the season, with periods of heavy rain interspersed with stretches of dryness. This has led to some patches of both very wet and very dry locations.
The recent rainfall in central Brazil put producers at ease, though it looks like it will be temporary. The European model suggests that as showers go isolated by this coming weekend, they will not return in any significant sense for the rest of April and likely not in May either. The American GFS model, on the other hand, does try to bring in more showers toward the end of the month for central areas, but not to drought-busting levels. Instead, the showers may only be on the order of 30 millimeters (around 1 inch) from late April into early May. This would be above normal for this point in the year, but only slightly so.
Across the southern growing areas, both models agree that rain will return by the end of the month, with producers hoping that it is more timely than too late.
Of course, the dry season awaits and typically arrives in late April or early May anyway. Soil moisture reserves are required to last through the end of the growing season to produce favorable yields. If the reserves are gone too quickly, corn will be sitting on dry soil as it gets to its pollination and fill stages. This could turn a good-looking crop early in the season to one that disappoints as the combines move through. This may end up being the case this year unless the rains beat the model predictions.
John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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