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April 29, 2016

Widespread Frosts and Freezing Temperatures hit Southern Brazil

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

After weeks of hot and dry weather in central Brazil, a strong cold front swept into Brazil this week bringing with it much needed precipitation and the coldest temperatures of the year. Widespread frosts and freezing temperatures were recorded this week in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Parana, and southern Mato Grosso do Sul. There was even a little snow recorded in the higher elevations of the state of Santa Catarina.

It is not uncommon for frosts to occur in southern Brazil, but these cold temperatures are coming very early in the fall season. In fact, the temperatures in Rio Grande do Sul were the coldest for the month of April in eleven years. Meteorologist in Brazil had predicted the potential for frosts during the month of May due to the transition from El Nino to La Nina, but even they have been surprised by the early arrival of such low temperatures.

Farmers in the region are concerned about the impact of the cold weather on their later developing safrinha corn crop especially in Parana and southern Mato Grosso do Sul. While the temperatures may not have been cold enough to end the growing season (27 or 28°F for 2-3 hours), it is certainly not welcomed for a corn crop that has already suffered weeks of hot and dry weather.

The rainfall that accompanied the cold front was very welcomed, but it generally was not heavy enough to recharge the depleted soil moisture in Goias, Minas Gerais, northern Mato Grosso do Sul, and eastern Mato Grosso. While the cold front brought with it cooler temperatures, it also ushered in dryer air. The forecast for central Brazil has turned dry once again with very little rainfall in the forecast. For the later planted safrinha corn this is not good news because the crop will continue to need precipitation at least through the month of May in order to insure adequate yields.

The rainfall may have helped to stabilize the safrinha corn crop temporarily, but they were generally not heavy enough to maintain the crop from further deterioration, much less reverse damage already done to the crop. As a result of the adverse weather, the 2015/16 safrinha corn crop in Brazil could be down as much as 5-10 million tons from initial estimates.

The cold temperatures in Rio Grande do Sul could also impact the later planted safrinha soybeans in the state. Some farmers who planted early maturing corn hybrids in late July or early August then harvested the corn for either silage or grain in December or January. As soon as the corn was harvested, they quickly planted a second crop of soybeans. Conab estimated that this safrinha soybean crop increased the total soybean acreage in the state by 0.5% to 1.0% (25,000-50,000 hectares). These safrinha soybeans, which are currently setting pods and filling pods, would be very sensitive to cold temperatures.