South America Calling

Limited Showers in Central Brazil

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Rainfall deficits in Brazil have been quite extreme during the last three months with many areas seeing 50% or less of normal rainfall. (DTN graphic)

Dry, dry, and dry again. During the last three months, very little rain has fallen over central Brazil through the second (safrinha) corn season.

The attached image shows the modeled departure from normal precipitation over the last 90 days. Only small pockets of the country's growing areas have anywhere close to normal precipitation while almost all other areas have come up short, mostly by significant margins. Large portions have seen 50% or less of the normal rainfall during the last three months, and that includes a relatively robust March.

That should not be all that surprising to frequent followers of the situation in Brazil. Estimates for safrinha corn production have fallen from every agency that puts them out every time that they issue a new forecast. The latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report issued by the USDA dropped Brazil's total corn production for 2020-21 from 102 million metric tons (mmt) to 98.5 mmt. On the same day, Conab lowered its corn production estimates from 106.4 mmt to 96.4 mmt. Dryness continues to plague the region's growing areas.

While there has been some rainfall for southern areas during the last couple of weeks, it has been spottier than forecast and not enough to reverse the dryness. Soil moisture has continued to decline and almost no areas in Brazil have adequate soil moisture for corn (above 40% of capacity).

Harvest has begun in portions of Mato Grosso for earlier planted corn but much of the crop is still in the reproductive to fill stages of growth. There is only limited time left for any rainfall to have a positive impact and there is not much hope.

There is a front situated over Mato Grosso do Sul into Sao Paulo June 10 that will move northward into the higher producing states June 11-12 and stall in the region. Fronts have done this before during the dry season, but have not been able to adequately produce showers. This one may be a little different.

Models have started to come around to the prospect of isolated showers in the states of Mato Grosso, Goias, and Minas Gerais June 11-15. But anything that does pop up would produce only brief, localized showers with limited rainfall amounts. Models are suggesting that any rainfall would be under 25 millimeters (1 inch) for areas that are behind by 1 to 400 millimeters (4 to 15 inches) during the last three months. That simply does not cut it. For a crop already damaged by drought stress, these limited rainfall amounts likely will have no significant positive effect on the yield prospects.

In contrast, however, Argentina has had bouts of plentiful rainfall this fall and winter. Soil moisture across almost the entire country is above 60% of capacity as of June 6. Even portions of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil have had the decent rainfall, having a positive effect for winter wheat planting and development. The rains have slowed corn harvest in Argentina as the country is still behind the typical pace, but going forward, the outlook for wheat is positive in the region.

John Baranick can be reached at john.baranick@dtn.com

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