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September 19, 2011

Southern Brazil Wetter than Normal, central Brazil Remains Dry

Farmers in southern Brazil have started to plant their 2011/12 corn crop, but heavy rains over the weekend generally brought corn planting to a halt and there is more rain in the forecast. The near term forecast for southern Brazil is for the wet weather to persist at least through the middle of this week with rainfall totals of up to 4 inches in northern Rio Grande do Sul. The states of Santa Catarina and southern Parana are expected to receive up to two inches of rain. After a brief period of dryer weather this coming weekend, another cold front is expected to move into southern Brazil next week bringing a return of wet weather.

In addition to delaying the corn planting, wet weather is also delaying the wheat harvest in the state of Parana. Approximately one third of the wheat in the state has been harvested and farmers would like to complete the wheat harvest as quickly as possible. Wheat yields in Parana are expected to be down 15% compared to last year due to freezing temperatures when the wheat was starting to flower. If wet weather returns to the state when the wheat is awaiting harvest, the quality of the crop could be harmed as well.

In contrast to southern Brazil, the rainy season in central Brazil has yet to start. There have been a few widely scattered light showers in Mato Grosso, but virtually no rainfall in Goias, Tocantins, and Bahia. Very little rainfall is in the forecast for central Brazil until the end of September or early October.

Farmers in central Brazil are now allowed to start planting their 2011/12 soybean crop, but they generally won't risk planting until they have receiver 2-3 inches of precipitation in order to recharge the soil moisture and guarantee emergence and seedling establishment. If they plant their soybeans after they receive the first rain, there is the risk that the second rain may not occur for several more weeks. Under that scenario, the small seedlings may die due to a lack of moisture and the crop will need to be replanted.

The driest areas of Brazil are the states of Tocantins, western Bahia, and southern Maranhao and Piaui. The soil moisture in these states is less than 30% and no significant rainfall is expected in the region until approximately October 10th.