South America Calling

Dryness Concerns About Brazil's 2nd Corn

April has been really dry across Brazil's Mato Grosso and the rest of the center-west, and with little rain forecast for the rest of the month, farmers are concerned about their second-crop corn.

As such, analysts are pulling back from forecasting another record crop in 2015-16, are no longer contemplating record exports and warn corn could be scarce in Brazil come the turn of the year.

Ample rains fell across the center-west in February and March but, as DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson predicted at the start of the month, they abruptly dried up.

And the region can expect no more than isolated showers until the last week of April, according to Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service.

That's bad news as the region's second-crop corn was planted late this year due to delays in the soybean crop. As a result, a larger portion of the crop will be going through key productive stages later than usual in April and May.

"Everything indicates that we will not see yields on a par with recent years," said Anderson Galvao Gomes, grain analyst at Celeres, a local consultancy.

Brazilian farmers have migrated en masse to plant corn as a second crop after soybeans in recent years. As a result, second-crop, or winter, corn accounts for about two-thirds of production and the center-west accounts for approximately two-thirds of that crop.

In recent years, the typically heavy summer rains of Brazil's Cerrado have extended into autumn, but they can't be counted on. This year a hot-air block is stationed over the region, stopping precipitation-carrying cold fronts from entering from the south.

According to Somar, there is also not much rain on the weather maps for May either.

Brazil planted more second-crop corn than ever in 2015-16, with area rising around 4% on the year before. The government forecasts a record crop of 57.1 million metric tons, up 5% on last year and in line with market estimates.

However, it may be that Brazil doesn't hit that figure.

It remains too early to talk about major losses, but analysts say Brazil may struggle to reach the 54.5 mmt produced last year

That could frustrate expectations that exports will top 30 mmt in the 2016-17 season (Feb-Jan) as they did in 2015-16.

Farmers in Mato Grosso have already committed as much as 70% of their second-crop corn for export. If there are heavy losses, some could struggle to honor those contracts.

It also means corn supplies could be tight. Brazil rather overcommitted to exporting in 2015-16, prompted by very attractive export premiums. As a result, it is currently importing as much as 700,000 metric tons of corn from Argentina to cover the shortfall until the second-crop harvest.

(AG)

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