South America Calling

Safrinha Corn Suffering

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Dryness has encompassed the central Brazil growing areas for the past two months. (DTN graphic)

Storms keep developing in Argentina, bringing widespread rainfall and some delays to corn and soybean harvest. But, as those fronts move northward into Brazil, they lose their steam.

A system that developed in Argentina May 2 moved a cold front into Rio Grande do Sul May 4. That front has slowly pushed into Parana May 6, but the precipitation associated with it has significantly diminished.

Nearly no rain has fallen across central Brazil during the last two weeks and it appears that at least another week of near complete dryness is in store for the region. The concerns about late-planted safrinha (second-season) corn in Brazil are becoming a reality. But to be honest, even without the late planting the corn crop may have been in trouble anyway.

Rains have been well-below normal during the last 30 to 45 days and totals for the last 60 days have been estimated at 50% of normal or less across major growing areas from Parana to southern Mato Grosso and Goias. Central and northern Mato Grosso has fared better over the long haul, but the dryness going forward will have a negative effect.

Outside of a pocket in northern Brazil and Goias, soil moisture estimates from satellite on May 2 have fallen below 50% of normal across all the safrinha corn growing areas. And there is only down to go from here.

We are fully entrenched in the dry season across Brazil. That likely started two weeks ago as the rains retreated to northern Mato Grosso and Goias and then farther north from there. Rains that occur during the dry season, which are rare, are dependent upon frontal boundaries moving north from Argentina. If they are slow, they lose their moisture and subsequent precipitation as they move north. If they move faster, then there is a better chance at bringing at least some precipitation into southern and central Brazil.

Recent storms have been very slow. As they move into northern Argentina and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil, they have either stalled or crept along. Moderate to heavy rainfall has been recorded at times in these areas during the past few weeks, but just cannot make its way northward into Parana or Mato Grosso do Sul to help out the developing corn.

A front next week may be faster, and could bring some moderate showers into Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul. Estimates from the European model would place about 6 to 20 millimeters (about 0.2 to 0.8 inches) of rainfall in some of these areas. But as the system moves farther north, the precipitation dries up. Virtually no precipitation is forecast to continue for Mato Grosso, Goias, or Minas Gerais through mid-May.

Now that the stressed corn is getting into pollination, the dryness both from the sky and in the ground will play a bigger role in the outcome of total yields and it does not look good. Area agencies are taking note as they continue to cut away at their estimates for corn production. It would be surprising if the USDA did not follow suit on the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, due out on May 12. For more insights into that report, you can sign up for DTN Lead Analyst Todd Hultman's webinar here:…

John Baranick can be reached at


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