Dryness looms over South American crops

Dryness looms over South American crops

Dry conditions in several parts of Brazil and Argentina are likely to continue, according to meteorologist Drew Lerner of World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kan.

Dry conditions in October and November hampered seeding pro­gress of soybeans, especially in Brazil, according to reports. However, by the end of planting farmers had largely caught up.

In Brazil there’s been timely rainfall in quite a few areas that’s aided soybean growth, Lerner said.

“The crop is probably holding on relatively well, but there has been a significant cut in production already,” he commented.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in its December supply-and-demand report pegged 2020-21 soybean production in Brazil at 133 million tonnes and its corn production at 110 million tonnes.

Last week, CONAB (Brazil’s equivalent to the USDA) lowered its soybean crop forecast by 500,000 tonnes with the expectation for 134.4 million in the 2020-21 crop year. As well, Brazil decreased projected corn production by 2.4 million tonnes with the crop to come in around 102.5 million. While corn production in Brazil is to be on par with the 2019-20 crop, the country’s soybean harvest remains to be on track for record amount due to increased planted area.

“Soybean production could go lower if rains in the north don’t get better,” Lerner warned.

Until recently, the focus on the dry conditions had been on southern areas in Brazil, with the north seen as doing relatively well. Lerner noted the situation has flipped in recent weeks.

“There’s been two or three waves of good rainfall, with another coming,” he said Dec. 15

After that, Lerner forecast Brazil, as well as Uruguay and eastern Argentina “to tilt back towards a drier bias, along the lines of La Niña conditions.”

As for Argentina, the country has received periodic light rains, which have come just at the right time, he said.

“The crops are not as bad off as what normal precipitation might suggest,” Lerner stated, cautioning that being summertime in Argentina the warm temperatures have raised the amount of evaporation, especially in the south.

“They’re ‘walking on thin ice,’ if they miss a rain they’re going to have a lot more serious issues,” he said.

Southern Argentina is in line for more rain on the weekend, he said. Should that system fail to develop, the situation could worsen as it’s followed by more warm and dry weather.

The central areas of the country have been better off, Lerner noted.

“They haven’t done really well, but they haven’t done really bad either,” he said.

Without sufficient and timely rain, Lerner said Argentina’s soybean crop could be well below the 50 million tonnes forecasted by the USDA. The country’s corn production was slotted to be 49 million tonnes.

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Glen Hallick - MarketsFarm

Glen Hallick writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. He previously reported for Postmedia newspapers in southern Manitoba and the province’s Interlake region.

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