Safrinha (second-season) corn in Brazil had a tough go at planting due to wetness, but since it got into the ground it has found fairly good conditions.
The wet season showers ended as they typically do, allowing most of the crop in central Brazil's states of Mato Grosso and Goias to get into or through reproduction before the rains shut down.
Farther south across the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana, wetness remained a larger concern and delayed more of the crop planting there, but rain continued to fall through April and early May with a front stalling in the region last week. Showers were more focused to the south in Paraguay and Rio Grande do Sul, a boost of soil moisture to these areas, but some of these southern safrinha growing areas caught some rain anyway, helping to extend showers for the late-planted crop.
The wet season rains shut down in late April, a few days earlier than average, but more or less on time. The region is now almost completely dry for the rest of the growing season. That is typical and producers expect that to be the case.
Most of the crop was able to get into or through reproduction with a deep reserve of subsoil moisture from an active wet season, so the dryness that has developed lately is not much of a concern. And there is still the potential that a front moves north into the area with some showers as well. It is a rare occurrence but has been known to happen from time to time.
Southern areas of Brazil can still count on these fronts moving in with showers. They likely stall when they do. A front is forecast to move north from Argentina into Paraguay and southern Brazil late next week. The front is forecast to stall in the region, which may produce rainfall amounts over 50 millimeters (about 2 inches), though the likelihood of that occurring for the states of Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana are lower than farther south. Still, any rainfall will be important to this later-developing crop that is only 55% in the reproductive stages as of May 8, reported by the government of Parana.
Corn production in Brazil is forecast by USDA to reach 125 million metric tons (mmt) as of April. The May USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, which will be issued tomorrow, May 12, is unlikely to change with the favorable weather the country has seen. That total of 125 mmt would be a record, but there are still weather challenges that may affect the production or quality of the safrinha crop. Heavy rain near harvest, though unlikely would be one concern. The larger concern, though, is frost.
Lower temperatures have brought frost to the higher elevations of southern Brazil in April and early May, with single-digit Celsius temperatures for parts of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, but frost has not been observed in the agricultural fields just yet.
Colder conditions continue through this coming weekend, but frosts are not expected. Typically, that is more of a concern in June. At that point, much of the safrinha corn in central Brazil is far enough in the filling process that a frost would not hurt. However, southern areas that were planted later would still be at risk. A deep-penetrating cold front is needed to bring the colder air northward to produce the frosts, and is easiest during the coldest months of the year -- June and July.
Long-range forecasts through June and July do not have a great signal that indicates that frost will occur either month, but will be something to closely watch with tight global supplies and an expectation of a record Brazilian harvest. We saw in 2021 how frosts can negatively affect the safrinha crop, so the risk is real even if it is low.
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John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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