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March 1, 2021

Early Corn Yields in Rio Grande do Sul Disappoint

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

The full-season corn crop in Brazil's southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul was 48% harvested as of late last week according to Emater. Yields of the early planted corn are disappointing especially in the northern part of the state, which suffered from dry weather early in the growing season. Corn yields are expected to be better in other parts of the state especially for the later planted corn.

One of the harder hit areas was the municipality of Cruz Alta, which is located in the north-central part of the state. The early planted corn was impacted by drought during the pollination and grain filling period for the second year in a row.

According to the President of the Rural Syndicate of Cruz Alta, in the past, dryland corn in the municipality has produced yields as high as 120 sacks per hectare (114 bu/ac), but last year the yields were as low as 60 sacks per hectare (57 bu/ac) and this year the yields are as low as 30 to 50 sacks per hectare (29 to 48 bu/ac).

Irrigated corn in the municipality did fine this year with yields in the range of 200 sacks per hectare (190 bu/ac), which is normal for irrigated corn.

In addition to the low yields, farmers feel they have missed out on the recent price rise for corn. A lot of farmers forward contracted their anticipated 2020/21 corn production for prices in the range of R$ 40 per sack (approximately $3.45 per bushel). At the time, they were locking in what they thought was a fairly good price for their corn. That same sack of corn is now selling in the range of R$ 80 per sack (approximately $6.85 per bushel).

Farmers in the state are lamenting the same thing for soybeans. They forward contracted a lot of their anticipated 2020/21 soybean production in the range of R$ 80 per sack (approximately $6.85 per bushel) and now soybean prices are in the range of R$ 140 per sack (approximately $12.00 per bushel).

Dry weather back in October and November delayed the soybean planting so the crop is just now entering its critical pod filling phase. The weather during the month of March will be critical in determining the final soybean yields in the state, which is Brazil's third largest soybean producing state.