During the past several weeks, it has continued to appear that rainfall over central Brazil will not keep up with demand for April. Forecasts from both the U.S. and European models for the two-week period, which has a more reliable track record, appears to justify that appearance.
Rainfall so far in April has been below normal. Outside of a few lucky pockets in central Brazil, rainfall totals have been less than half of what we typically see. The forecast for the rest of the month continues that below-normal trend. Amounts overall for the month could be 40-75 millimeters (roughly 1.5 to 3 inches) below normal across a vast area.
An area that has already been well behind the normal pace this year cannot afford to have the tail end of the wet season be so dry. Soil profiles were largely full as we rolled into March, but recent weeks of below-normal precipitation have forced crops to extract more soil moisture as they germinate and develop.
The hardest-hit state with dryness has been Rio Grande do Sul. Satellite estimates, as of April 11, indicate that almost the entire state is below 50% soil moisture. Pockets of this extreme dryness have spread to many areas of Brazil's main growing regions for safrinha corn.
Mato Grosso, the safrinha corn producer, is faring better so far this April. Showers have been a bit more consistent here and are forecast to remain in the area into next week. But amounts have still been below normal and will continue to be that way through the end of April. And with May as the typical start of the dry season, soil moisture reserves may not be able to keep up with demand as corn goes through pollination and grain fill. Timely showers will be necessary through the rest of the growing season as amounts do not look like they will be adequate.
Farther south in Argentina, the corn and soybean harvests continue. Heavy rainfall last week has flipped to dry conditions this week. Harvest delays and grain quality were concerns due to some locations recording over 5 inches of precipitation. Flooding was also a likely issue.
Drier conditions will continue through the weekend, though there will be some scattered showers across the north. This should favor the continued harvest. However, another front will move into the country in the middle of next week. Another slow-moving front with moderate rainfall could again cause delays over a two- to three-day period. Amounts are not expected to be anywhere near what the region saw last week but amounts of 25 to 50 millimeters (roughly 1 to 2 inches) will be possible.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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