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May 28, 2014

El Nino could Favor Soybean and Corn Production in Brazil

Most meteorological agencies are indicating that a weak El Nino is in the process of developing in the Pacific Ocean and that it may eventually develop into a mild event. The Center for Climate Prediction recently increased their odds of an El Nino developing this summer to 90%. It seems nearly certain that an El Nino will develop, but the strength of the impending event is still in doubt.

If a mild El Nino develops this summer and persists into the fall, it could have a significant impact on the 2015/16 growing season in Brazil. Meteorologists form the Brazilian National Weather Service (Inmet) feel an El Nino would have a varied impact on Brazilian weather. Generally, they feel it would result in above normal precipitation in the center-west region of Brazil and in southern Brazil, but below normal precipitation in northeastern Brazil. For the southeastern region of Brazil, the correlation between an El Nino and future weather is less certain.

The state of Mato Grosso, which is located in the center-west region of the country, is the leading soybean and corn producing state in Brazil and Inmet is forecasting above normal precipitation in the state for the 2015/16 growing season which will start in September.

The southern Brazilian states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul are Brazil's second and third leading soybean producing states and their spring planting will start in September as well. According to Inmet's assessment, the rainfall in southern Brazil during the spring and summer growing season should be above normal as well.

The one area of Brazil that is expected to receive below normal rainfall is northeastern Brazil. This semi-arid region suffers from periodic droughts which may become worse during El Nino years. If the forecast is correct, it could impact soybean, corn, and cotton production in the states of Bahia, Maranhao, Piaui, and Tocantins. This has been an area of recent soybean expansion and now accounts for approximately 10% of Brazil's soybean production.

The impact of an El Nino in southeastern Brazil is more varied. Meteorologists from Inmet expect the temperatures to be above normal in southeastern Brazil, but the rainfall may not be above normal. Southeastern Brazil is the major region for coffee and sugarcane production in Brazil