January 21, 2013

Dry Weather Starting to Worry Farmers in Southern Brazil

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

Soybean farmers in Rio Grande do Sul in far southern Brazil are becoming concerned about the recent lack of rainfall across the state and the forecast for little relief from the dry conditions over the next two weeks. In many areas of the state, the last general rainfall was ten days ago and there is little rain in the forecast for at least the next ten days.

Most of the soybeans in the state are still in good condition, but that could change quickly if additional rainfall is not received within the next week or two. The soils in the state do not have a very high water holding capacity and soybeans in the state can start to lose some of their yield potential if they go without rainfall for 15 to 18 days. If it doesn't rain this week, some agronomists in the state are predicting that the soybean yields will start to decline.

The dryer weather is moving into the state just at the time when adequate moisture becomes more critical for the crop. The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul are some of the latest planted soybeans in Brazil and most of the soybeans are still in vegetative development with approximately 20% of the crop now flowering and filling pods. The yield potential for the crop will be determined to a large extent over the next 30-45 days as the pod filling process is completed.

Farmers in the state remember what happened in 2011/12 when a severe drought reduced their soybean yields by 50% or more. While the dryness this year is not nearly as bad as it was a year ago, they certainly do not want to have two disappointing crops in a row.

Meteorologists in Brazil are forecasting a prolonged period of dryness not only for Rio Grande do Sul, but also for the neighboring states of Santa Catarina and southern Parana. They are attributing the dryer trend to cooling water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. They feel the mild La Nina conditions are preventing humidity from the Amazon Region from making it all the way south to southern Brazil. The atmospheric moisture is being held up across central Brazil where rainfall totals have surged during the month of January. Therefore, cold fronts have very little atmospheric moisture to work with when they traverse southern Brazil resulting in dryer conditions.

Rio Grande do Sul is the third leading soybean producing state in Brazil responsible for approximately 14.5% of Brazil's anticipated production. The corn crop in the state is not expected to be significantly impacted by the recent dry weather because the corn was planted earlier and most of the crop is approaching the final stages of maturation.