January 4, 2011

Southern Brazil Forecasted to have Dryer Weather in early 2011

Meteorologists for the National Weather Service in Brazil (INMET) stated that their models indicate that the current La Nina should persist at least through the first half of 2011. With that as their basis, they are forecasting below normal rainfall with irregular distribution of rain for southern Brazil (Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul) over the next several months. They feel there will be periods of heavy rains alternating with periods of little or no rainfall at all.

For the center-west region of Brazil (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias), their forecast is for above normal rainfall during the next few months with good distribution and timing of the showers. They are forecasting a very similar situation for northeastern Brazil and southeastern Brazil as well. The temperatures in Brazil are expected to be normal in early in 2011.

If this forecast verifies, it appears that only southern Brazil runs the risk of disruptive weather during the second half of the growing season. Up until this point, the growing season in Parana has been very good with over 90% of the crops in the state rated as being in good condition. The one potential area of concern in southern Brazil continues to be the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

November was dryer than normal in Rio Grande do Sul, but the rainfall amounts picked up during December. If the weather during January and February turns out to be dryer than normal, the soybean crop in the state could be at risk of lower yields. At this point, the soybeans in the state are primarily in vegetative development and the crop will be flowering and setting pods during January and February. Adverse weather during that period could impact the crop especially in the southern half of the state.

Approximately 22% of the soybean acreage in the state is in the southern half of the state and the weather there has been much dryer than normal over the last two months. There is a concern that if it remains dry in southern Rio Grande do Sul, not all of the intended soybean acreage in the region will be planted. The state as a whole plants approximately 18% of Brazil's soybeans.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul generally has the lowest average soybean yield of all the major soybean producing states in Brazil. The two major reasons for the lower yields is the fact that the state can experience extended periods of dry weather during the growing season and because of the lower water holding capacity and fertility of the soils in the state.