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May 15, 2018

Brazil Safrinha Corn only Received Light Rain, More Needed

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

A cold front over this past weekend brought generally light showers to southern Brazil with very little benefits in central Brazil. The blocking high pressure is breaking down which should allow for more frontal systems to move into Brazil with additional showers that could make it up to Mato Grosso and Goias. The rainfall is expected to stop the corn losses from getting worse but the losses are irreversible and the rains are coming too late for any meaningful recovery.

In their report last week, Conab actually increased their Brazilian corn estimate due to an increase in their full-season corn estimate. They now have the 2017/18 Brazilian corn estimate at 89.2 million tons, which now makes them by far the highest estimate in the market. In contrast, the USDA lowered their Brazilian corn estimate by 5 million tons to 87.0 million.

What is still unknown is the safrinha corn crop. Conab is estimating the safrinha crop at 62.9 million tons, which is down only slightly from last month in spite of the fact that April was very dry across the majority of the safrinha belt. Below are some highlights from across the safrinha corn belt.

Mato Grosso - The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) is expecting a statewide yield of 96 sacks per hectare (88.7 bu/ac) compared to last year's yield of 107 sacks per hectare (98.8 bu/ac). Approximately 30% of the corn was planted after the ideal window closed on February 25th. If the corn is planted during the ideal window, farmers apply more inputs and yields are generally in the range of 100-120 sacks per hectare (92.4 to 110.8 bu/ac). Farmers generally use less inputs for corn planted after the window has closed, therefore yields are in the range of 70-80 sacks per hectare (64.6 to 73.9 bu/ac). Imea is estimating the safrinha corn crop in Mato Grosso at 25.9 million tons, which is down 4 million tons from last year.

Imea is expected to lower their estimate of the safrinha corn crop in their next estimate due to recent dry weather in eastern and southern Mato Grosso which accounts for 28% of Mato Grosso's safrinha corn acreage. The next 10-15 days will determine the final corn yield in Mato Grosso.

  • Sapezal in western Mato Grosso - this is where the rains have been the most beneficial, 90% of the corn is now safe, a few fields could still use a rain, last year's yield was 145 sacks per hectare (134 bu/ac), this year's yields expected to be down 5% due to increased pest pressures.
  • Sorriso in central Mato Grosso - most of the corn was planted within the ideal window, rains have been good, yields are expected to be similar to last year at 112 sacks per hectare (103.4 bu/ac), this is the largest corn producing municipality in Brazil.
  • Lucas do Rio Verde in central Mato Grosso - 70-80% of the corn is safe, 20-30% was planted after the window closed on February 25th and it needs rain to finish.
  • Ipiranga do Norte in northern Mato Grosso - 60% of the corn is safe, 15 days with no rain.
  • Primavera do Leste in southeastern Mato Grosso - last rain was April 15th, temperatures have been high, corn losses could be as high as 30%
  • Querencia in northeastern Mato Grosso - 60% of the corn planted outside the ideal window, 20-25 days without rain, temperatures have been 33-35°C (92-95°F), normal yield is 100 sacks per hectare (92.4 bu/ac), will be less this year.

Parana - Farmers in Parana planted their corn the latest of any state in Brazil at the end of February and early March. The state is expected the most severe losses. As of May 7th, the Department of Rural Economics (Deral) estimated the corn in Parana at 16% vegetative development, 52% pollinating, 30% grain fill, and 2% mature. Corn was rated 13% poor, 44% average, 43% good. There were some light showers over the weekend, but they were probably not heavy enough to change the overall scenario. Some areas of Parana expecting losses of up to 40%.

Mato Grosso do Sul - In southern Mato Grosso do Sul, it is estimated that the safrinha corn production will be down on average 30% from initial expectations. The month of April turned out to be very dry with some areas not receiving any ran during the month. The city of Dourados in southern Mato Grosso do Sul normally receives 112 mm of rainfall during April (4 inches), but this past April it received only 3 mm (0.1 inches). Some areas were even dryer and did not receive any rainfall for 50 days. The first three months of the year were wet, so the month of April started off with 100% of the available soil moisture. The month of April ended with about 25% of the available soil moisture.

Farmers had to plant their safrinha corn later than desired because of the delay in the soybean harvest and they realized the risks of planting extra late. Their primary concern was the risk of frost, but dry weather hit right during the critical reproductive phases. The recent rains will probably keep it from getting worse and improved corn prices may partially compensate for their lower corn production. In the municipality of Dourados, farmers are expecting losses of 35% on their 120-day corn that was planted February 25th.

Sao Paulo - The month of April was extremely dry in the state of Sao Paulo with many safrinha corn fields going over 30 days without rain. The president of the Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Sao Paulo (Aprosoja-Sao Paulo) indicated that some producers are expecting losses up to 40%. Rains going forward could help to stem the losses.

Tocantins - In the municipality of Darcinopolis, it has been dry for 20 days with high temperatures. Corn losses could be as high as 30%. Corn needs rain, but there is no rain in the near term forecast.