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October 12, 2017

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul facing a series of Weather Disruptions

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

Recent weather extremes have put farmers in the state of Rio Grande do Sul on alert. Heavy rains accompanied by high winds and hail have already impacted crops in the state and the forecast is calling for more extreme weather this week. Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost state in Brazil and the Brazilian National Weather Service is forecasting that the state will be impacted by more severe weather this week.

The most immediate concern is for the wheat crop in the state. Approximately 1% of the wheat has been harvested with much if the remaining crop approaching maturity. Conab is estimating that the state will produce 1.7 million tons of wheat in 2017, but private estimates put the production as low as 1.4 to 1.5 million tons. Farmers have been reporting that the early wheat yields have been disappointing. The lower yields are being attributed to a number of factors including: excess moisture at planting, dry weather during vegetative development, a high level of foliar diseases, and now adverse weather during the early harvest.

The next immediate concern is for the corn crop that is currently being planted. Due to low corn prices and better returns for soybeans, farmers in the state are expected to reduce their corn acreage in favor of more soybean production. Conab is estimating that the corn acreage in the state may decline from 7.6% to 16.4% and that the corn production may decline 11.3% to 19.7% in 2017/18.

The president of the Federation of Agriculture and Livestock Cooperatives in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (Feco/RS) feels the corn acreage and production might decline even more than what was estimated by Conab. He thinks the corn acreage might decline as much as 20%. The remaining corn planting is currently being delayed by the wet weather.

The principal crop in the state is soybeans and Conab is estimating that the soybean acreage in the state will increase 1% to 3%, but that the total soybean production might decline 5.5% to 7.4%, The reason for the lower production is the expectation that soybean yields in 2017/18 will be lower than the record high yields achieved in 2017/17.

Emater estimates that the soybean acreage in the state will increase 3.1%, but the production will decline 9.8% compared to last year due to projected lower yields. Soybean yields in the state in 2016/17 set an all-time record high at 55 sack per hectare (47.8 bu/ac) due to the ideal weather during the 2016/17 growing season. For the 2017/18 growing season, Emater is estimating the soybean yields at 48 sacks per hectare (41.7 bu/ac).