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April 14, 2016

La Nina Correlates with Potential Drought in Southern Brazil

Meteorologists are expecting the current strong El Nino to transition to a neutral phase by May or June and then to move into La Nina by the U.S. summer. If that transition occurs, it may or may not come in time to impact the U.S. growing season, but it would come in time to impact the 2016/17 growing season in South America.

According to meteorologists from the National Institute of Meteorology in Brazil (Inmet), a La Nina would have the biggest impact on the weather in southern Brazil. Meteorologists from Inmet are forecasting a transition to La Nina by August or September and a La Nina generally correlates with below normal rainfall and irregular rains in southern Brazil. The meteorologists explain that it is common to experience drought conditions in southern Brazil with dry periods as long as three weeks during a strong La Nina.

Inmet meteorologists are expecting the La Nina to peak during the South American 2016/17 summer growing season.

A La Nina event would not be bad news for all of Brazil or for all the crops in Brazil. In northern and northeastern Brazil, a La Nina generally correlates with above normal precipitation as well as in northern Mato Grosso. That would be very welcomed news for farmers in those regions who suffered under significant moisture deficits during the 2015/16 growing season.

The winter wheat crop in southern Brazil might actually benefit from a dryer weather pattern resulting from La Nina. For the last two years, the wheat crop in southern Brazil has been severely impacted by heavy rains during harvest resulting from the strong El Nino. The rains impacted the quality to such an extent that much of the wheat was only suited for animal feed instead of human consumption. A dryer weather pattern during September-October-November would probably result in much higher quality wheat.