South America Calling

Tribulations of Brazil's Second-Crop Corn

After three years of great winter corn crops, Brazilian grain farmers are seeing their 2016 harvest suffer.

The latest trial was a frost scare in the southern state of Parana this week.

In the event, while the thermometers dropped sharply on Thursday, they didn't reach corn-threatening temperatures, but the tribulations continue.

The main issue has been the hot, dry weather that started in March and has extended through most of April.

With 55% to 60% of the second-crop corn going through reproductive stages in April, the lack of rain badly hurt crops from Parana to Mato Grosso to Minas Gerais, said Paulo Molinari, corn analyst at Safras e Mercado in a report. That represents about 15.5 million acres with issues.

Then there is a further 1.5 million acres that was planted in late March and early April that simply hasn't had rain to germinate properly in many cases. Some of these crops could be lost totally, Molinari warns.

As a result, Safras forecasts the second crop will reach only 56 .0 million metric tons, slightly down on the year before despite a 16% increase in planted area.

An exacerbating factor has been a reduction in the use of high-tech seeds in favor of cheaper varieties this year, according Nery Ribas, technical director at the Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Growers Association (Aprosoja-MT).

The good news is the cold front that brought after it this week's cold snap did bring some much needed rain to the Corn Belt.

According to Bryce Anderson, DTN's senior ag meteorologist, there will be some more rain over the next five days, something like one inch, then very little till another front arrives after next week with 1-3 inches.

That would be beneficial, assuming rain falls uniformly, but many losses are already irreversible.

(CZ)

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