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January 6, 2012

Crop Losses Confirmed in Western Parana

The state government of Parana confirmed in their latest report what everybody already knew that the prolonged dry weather has resulted in significant losses for the full-season corn and soybean crops. The current problems in western Parana started in December when the rainfall diminished and the situation continues to get worse. Parana is an important crop producing state in Brazil responsible for 20% or more of Brazil's total soybean and corn production.

The driest regions of the state are the northwest, center-west, and southwest regions where less than 1/3 the normal rainfall was received during the month of December. The dry area encompasses approximately 65% of the state's soybeans and 40% of the state's corn acreage. The full-season corn in the state pollinated under very adverse conditions and the yield losses are locked in for the crop. The early and medium maturity soybeans will probably be hit the hardest because they are filling pods under the worst conditions. The later maturity soybeans could still recuperate somewhat if additional rainfall is received within a few weeks.

The Secretary of Agricultural and the Department of Rural Economics for the state of Parana released on Thursday, January 5th, their current assessment of the situation in the state. They lowered the state's soybean production 1.4 million tons from 14.15 to 12.73 million or a reduction of about 10%. For full-season corn production, they estimated the crop at 6.4 million tons which was 14% or 1.05 million tons less than estimates at the start of the growing season. Even with the reduction, full-season corn production in the state could still surpass last year due to an increase of 21% in the planted acreage.

An agricultural cooperative in western Parana, Coopavel, which has 3,300 members spread across 17 municipalities, reported that their members received less than half of last year'is rainfall thus far this growing season. Across all 17 municipalities, the December rainfall averaged 68 mm (2.7 inches) compared to the long term average of 207 mm (8.3 inches). Co-op members in seven municipalities reported that they received less than 40 mm (1.6 inches) in December and that their soybean yields have been cut 30%.

The first early-maturing soybeans that have been harvested in western Parana are reported to be yielding in the range of 25 to 40 sacks per hectare (1,200 to 2,400 kg/ha or 17 to 35 bu/ac) whereas last year the early-maturing soybeans averaged 60 sacks per hectare (3,600 kg/ha or 52 bu/ac). In some of the hardest hit areas where it has not rained for over 45 days, non-irrigated corn losses are estimated to be as high as 80% to 100%.

The dryness also extends into the states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul where more than 70 municipalities have already declared states of emergency due to the drought.