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Crops briefs, Jan. 12

Drought dents Brazil crops

Sao Paulo/Reuters/ Two important Brazilian corn and soy producers Parana and Rio Grande do Sul made sharp cuts to crop forecasts Jan. 5 after weeks of harsh, dry weather dented prospects for a soy crop that as recently as this week some still expected to be a record.

Brazil’s biggest soy state Mato Grosso which grows nearly a third of the crop has been spared weather havoc this year but traders are closely watching losses in other states and in Argentina. Markets grow more tense with each dry day.

Just three weeks since its last forecast, Parana’s Rural Economy Department, Deral, lopped 1.4 million tonnes off its outlook for soy and one million off corn, equating to nearly two per cent and 1.6 per cent of national output respectively.

Parana, a southern state, has borne the brunt of a prolonged dry spell in what is usually a wet summer season due to the influence of the La Nia weather anomaly, which the U.S. Climate Prediction Center said could last until May.

Winter wheat holding up well – so far

No news is good news for Western Canada’s winter wheat crop.

The lack of snow cover has been offset by above-seasonal conditions on the Prairies, but the crop remains vulnerable.

Because of mild temperatures, the lack of snow cover across the Prairies hasn’t hurt the winter wheat crop so far, said Bruce Burnett, director of weather and market analysis with the Canadian Wheat Board

With the mild weather, some are concerned winter wheat could be fooled into growing but the soil is still frozen enough thanks to cool overnight temperatures, which make it impossible for the wheat to immaturely grow, Burnett said last week.

However, while the unseasonably warm winter continues, issues remain for winter wheat in both cold and warm weather conditions. A sharp cold snap, given the lack of snow cover, would hurt the crop, said Jake Davidson, executive director of Winter Cereals Canada in Minnedosa. A snow cover of four to five inches is required to protect the crop from extremely low temperatures, he said.

As well, freezing rainfall would also damage the crop, Davidson said. Frozen rain would cut off oxygen to the top inch of the winter wheat and ruin crops, he said.

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