January 9, 2015

2014/15 Corn Harvest Underway in Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil

The early 2014/15 full-season corn harvest has begun in the northern part of the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. Reports are coming in from the city of Santo Angelo that non-irrigated corn yields are in the range of 80 to 90 sacks per hectare (4,800 to 5,400 kg/ha or 74 to 83 bu/ac). Irrigated corn is yielding much better in the range of 180 to 200 sacks per hectare (10,800 to 12,000 kg/ha or 166 to 185 bu/ac).

The president of the local Rural Society, Claudio Duarte, feels these are good corn yields for the region. The corn benefited from the heavy precipitation that has fallen in the state over the last few months. The excessive rainfall has been good for the corn crop, but it resulted in significant damage to the winter wheat crop. The heavy rains during the wheat harvest in October and November resulted in very low wheat yields and very poor quality grain. Much of the wheat is not suitable for milling and is being used for animal rations.

After the full-season corn is harvested, farmers will be planting their second grain crop. The majority of the second grain crop in northern Rio Grande do Sul is winter wheat, but the wheat acreage is expected to decline in 2015/16 due to low prices and the disappointing 2014/15 wheat harvest. Wheat is still expected to be the primary second grain crop, but some farmers have indicated that they may plant a second crop of corn or even soybeans. In order to have enough time to mature, any safrinha corn or soybean crops would need to be planted within the next month or two.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul is far enough south that they can encounter "winter-like" weather in June and July. Frost are common during this period with an occasional snow especially at the higher elevations. May is the primary month for planting winter wheat in Rio Grande do Sul and the wheat will go into dormancy during the colder months. The wheat is harvested in October and November and farmers will then plant double crop soybeans after the wheat is harvested.