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December 2, 2015

Heavy Rains Impacting Crops in Parana

The prediction of heavy rains in southern Brazil resulting from the strong El Nino have proven correct and the wet weather has impacted the crops in the state of Parana. For a number of weeks, southern Brazil has been dealing with very heavy rainfall and there is more rain in the forecast.

Soybeans are the biggest crop grown in Parana and the crop is approximately 91% planted. The soybean planting has concluded in the norther and western parts of the state, while farmers in the southern part of the state are still trying to plant their late soybeans. The soybean acreage in the state is estimated to be up 3% this year and the Secretary of Agriculture in the state is anticipating a record soybean production of 18 million tons. The early soybeans are now starting to flower and set pods and the crop is rated in good condition. Farmers in the state have forward contracted 33% of their anticipated soybean production, which is up only 2% from last month.

Some farmers are concerned about the persistent cloudy conditions and the lack of sunshine, but a bigger problem might be increased disease pressure resulting from the wet conditions. There have already been 23 confirmed cases of soybean rust in the state and scientists are concerned that the disease could get out of control if wet weather prevents farmers from making timely fungicide applications.

The big change in crop acreage in the state has been for the full-season corn. The full-season corn acreage in the state is down 19% compared to last year to the lowest level since records have been kept. Farmers continue to shift their full-season corn to soybeans and plant their corn as a second crop instead of the first crop. The full-season corn is 99% planted and the crop is developing normally. The state Secretary of Agriculture is expecting a full-season corn production of 3.8 million tons or 19% less than last year.

The biggest impact of the wet weather thus far has been on the state's wheat and barley crops. Initially, the state's wheat production was anticipated to be 4 million tons, but the Secretary of Agriculture has lowered the estimate to 3.4 million tons. In addition to lower yields, much of the wheat was of poor quality and only suitable for animal feed. Farmers who managed to harvest their wheat before the onset of the wet weather have been able to sell their higher quality wheat for satisfactory prices. Unfortunately, most farmers are having to cope with not only lower yields and poor quality wheat, but with also low prices.

The state's barley crop fared even worse than the wheat. The state is expected to produce only 133,000 tons of barley, which is down 33% from last year's production of 198,000 tons. The way it stands now, Brazil will need to import malting barley and more wheat than they did last year.