Favorable Start to Brazil Crop Year

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Harvest time in the northern hemisphere is planting time--for the most part, soybean-planting time--in the southern hemisphere, and planting in Brazil is off to a favorable start. Farmers in Brazil have an official start time of mid-September to allow for some time after the previous harvest to maintain control of soybean rust.

The timing of soybean planting is important because the total Brazil crop year is affected. Soybeans planted in September will get harvested by January and February. That ground which produced soybeans will then, in turn, be planted to another crop: corn. This follow-up corn crop is called “safrinha,” which, in Portuguese (the official Brazil language), means “small crop,” since this planting is done after the main soybean harvest. There’s nothing “small” about this portion of the crop total, however: The safrinha corn makes up more than half the total Brazil production.

LOWERED PRODUCTION. Now, to the timing factor: In the 2017–18 crop year, Brazil’s major soybean areas were dry in September, which delayed the start of soybean planting. That delay, in turn, meant soybean harvest was later, in many operations not getting under way until February at the beginning.

This delay meant the safrinha corn was planted later; and, with Brazil’s climate pattern featuring six-month wet and dry seasons, a big segment of the safrinha corn went into pollination and fill stages during the start of the dry season. This timing resulted in total Brazil corn production that was more than 20 percent below the output of 2016–17. That lower crop size meant U.S. corn was in greater demand during the April-May-June time period in 2018.

EARLY START. Starting off the 2018–19 crop year, however, the rainy season began in early September--first in southern Brazil, then northward into Mato Grosso--and the planters had a chance to roll. Brazil soybean planting began a full three weeks earlier than a year ago. That means the first of the 2019 soybean harvest may be loaded for export during the third week of January--right around 10 days to two weeks earlier than average. And, there will be a lot of those beans available, too; both USDA and private estimates call for Brazil to produce more than 120 million metric tons (mmt) of soybeans in 2018–19. That’s a new record and equates to 4.4 billion bushels, very close to the estimated U.S. soybean output in 2018.

Continuing the crop-cycle outlook, the total corn crop for 2018–19 in Brazil is expected to reach almost 95 mmt--about 16 percent greater than the 2018 crop--and, a further example of the impact of the beneficial start to the Brazil crop weather scene.

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