South America Calling

Safrinha Corn in Brazil May See Some Rain

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Limited rainfall is forecast in south-central Brazil but may be locally heavy as forecast by the European model. (DTN graphic)

The wet season in Brazil ended in mid-April, a couple of weeks early, and rain has been very hard to come by since then. That is typically the case, as central and south-central Brazil from Parana up to Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais rarely see the types of daytime showers and thunderstorms during the dry season.

But usually, southern portions of the safrinha corn areas can count on fronts moving north out of Argentina with periodic showers. That has not been the case thus far. Outside of a shower here or there, it has been bone-dry. DTN estimates over the last 30 days there has been for less than 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) in almost all of the safrinha corn growing areas of Brazil, and most of those without a drop.

Fronts have been stalling farther south, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina. With fronts stalling there and not moving farther north, extremely heavy rain and flooding have occurred instead, causing damage to crops still out in the field and infrastructure, as well as loss of life.

In the absence of rain, temperatures have been consistently higher than normal, with daytime highs in the middle to upper 30s Celsius (middle 90s to lower 100s Fahrenheit), causing additional stress.

Due to both high heat and dry weather, crop conditions in the state of Parana, the southernmost safrinha corn state, have been falling. According to the government of Parana, as of May 20, good-to-excellent ratings have fallen to just 51% with poor-to-very-poor ratings at 17%. On April 22, it was 74% and 0%, respectively.

Also in that most recent report, only 27% of the crop was mature, with 9% still in the pollination stage. With the bulk of the crop still filling, getting some moisture into the soil may go a long way to reducing the damage from the recent dryness.

One of these stuck fronts will finally be able to make its way northward with showers for the states of Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Sao Paulo starting Friday, May 24, and lasting through Monday, May 27. Showers are forecast to be spotty, but they could bring some heavy amounts where they hit. Models disagree on the coverage and intensity, but there is potential there for some areas to receive more than 50 millimeters (about 2 inches). Rain like that could lead to some improvement in conditions, though for the crop that is farther along, that may be too late.

Getting showers farther north into Mato Grosso, Goias, and Minas Gerais in central Brazil is not out of the question, but a low-probability event. However, a slight reduction in temperatures and an increase in cloud cover may have some small benefit to a crop that is starting to mature and be harvested there. IMEA in Mato Grosso has noted that the harvest has just started. The primary harvest period in that state is from mid-June through mid-July so there is limited time left here as well.


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