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April 28, 2021

Recent Rains in Brazil Disappoint, Safrinha Corn Declines

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

The light and scattered showers over the weekend in western Mato Grosso do Sul and a small part of Parana only resulted in a temporary reprieve from the dryness. The forecast now is for a return of dry weather from south-central Mato Grosso all the way south to southern Brazil. The situation for the safrinha corn in south-central Brazil continues to be precarious especially since a lot of the safrinha corn was planted very late and the summer rainy season may be ending early. At this time of the year, every week that goes by without rain lowers the probability of significant additional rainfall in the future.

Therefore, the 2020/21 Brazil corn estimate was lowered 3.0 million tons this week to 100.0 million with a continued lower bias. The 2020/21 Brazil safrinha corn crop is now estimated at 74.0 million tons with the full-season corn estimated at 24.5 million and the third crop estimated at 1.8 million. It is very difficult to say where the bottom might be for the Brazilian corn estimate, but I lowered the minimum estimate to 90.0 million tons. I don't think it is going to get that low, but it is in the realm of possibilities. I would say that 50% or more of the safrinha corn is not experiencing various levels of moisture stress.

Sao Paulo Safrinha Corn - The state of Sao Paulo only accounts for about 3% of Brazil's safrinha corn production, but the situation in the state is typical of other areas of south-central Brazil. The condition of the corn in Sao Paulo depends on when it was planted, the type of soil, and if they happened to get a shower or two.

The President of the Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Sao Paulo (Aprosoja SP), Gustavo Chevalier, indicated that the earliest planted corn in Sao Paulo has fared better and could still end up with normal yields if they could catch another one or two good rains. The later planted corn that was planted after the ideal planting window had closed, is suffering significant moisture stress and has already lost some of its yield potential.

In the municipality of Rancharia, which is located in southwestern Sao Paulo, the corn is still relying on the subsoil moisture due to the good rains in March. During the month of March, the area received 350 mm of rainfall (14 inches) with the last rain on March 29th, so the corn is still relying on subsoil moisture, but it will need more rain soon.

Parana Safrinha Corn - In the municipality of Goioere, which is located in west-central Parana, the safrinha corn was planted later than normal and they have gone approximately 40 days without rain and corn losses are mounting. In the most fertile areas, corn yields are down about 30% and in the poorer soils, corn yields are down 40% to 50%. The situation could get worse if it doesn't rain soon.

In the municipality of Sao Joao, which is located in southwest Parana, the rainfall has been extremely variable with some areas receiving over 4 inches earlier last week and other areas of the municipality reaming completely dry. The hoped for weekend rains did not materialize. The corn that received the recent rain could still have good yields, while the dry areas could have losses as much as 100%. The average loss in the municipality is probably in the range of 60% to 70%.

There is also a lot of insect pressure and farmers are debating if they should invest more money in the crop. Farmers have already sold about 30% of their anticipated production for an average price of about R$ 40.00 per sack (approximately $3.30 per bushel). They are worried that they may not have much more to sell at the current price of R$ 95.00 per sack (approximately $7.80 per bushel).

Minas Gerais Safrinha Corn - Most of the state is critically short on moisture and the last rains were light and irregular. According to President of Aprosoja MG, Fabio Sales Meirelles Filho, rainfall amounts have not been too bad, but distribution has been the problem. The corn in the state differs widely in its development with some corn already setting ears and in need of rain. He estimates that only 10% of the corn in the state is expected to have good yields.

Goias Safrinha Corn - The President of Aprosoja GO, Adriano Barzotto, estimates that the statewide corn yield will probably be down 20%. Some areas of southern Goias were lucky enough to get a half an inch to an inch of rain in recent weeks which helped the corn, but did not resolve the overall dry situation.

The corn development in Goias varies widely since about 65% of the corn was planted after the ideal planting window had closed. If the corn receives some additional rainfall soon, the yields could still be in the range of 60 to 70 sacks per hectare (57 to 67 bu/ac). The average safrinha corn yield in the region is generally in the range of 100 sacks per hectare (95.4 bu/ac).

Corn needs about 8 mm of moisture per day (0.3 inches) and farmers in Goias would need four or five additional days of rain with 15 to 20 mm each day (0.6 to 0.8 inches) in order for the corn to achieve a normal yield.

Mato Grosso Safrinha Corn - In the municipality of Sorriso, which is located in central Mato Grosso, 40% of the corn was planted after the ideal planting window had closed. Much of the municipality went 30 days without a rain until this past weekend, and even with the rain, some areas remained dry. The earlier planted corn is doing OK, but needs more rain to set the ears. The later planted corn will need rain through May and into June to avoid yield losses.

In the municipality of Claudia, which is located in northern Mato Grosso, safrinha corn planting started about three weeks later than normal and 35% of the safrinha corn was planted after the ideal planting window had closed, but up until now the crop has developed normally. The president of the Rural Syndicate of Claudia indicated that the crop only needs two or three more good rains in order to achieve good yields.

Mato Grosso do Sul Safrinha Corn - In the municipality of Aral Moreira, which is located in southwestern Mato Grosso do Sul along the border with Paraguay, the safrinha corn was planted only moderately late and was done by March 10th, they have had a couple good rains since, and the corn is now setting ears. The crop needs another couple good rains for good yields. Farmers had forward contracted their corn for R$ 30-40 per sack ($2.50 to $3.30 per bushel) with corn now selling for approximately R$ 80 per sack (approximately $6.60 per bushel).

The table below is Conab's April estimate for Brazil's 2020/21 safrinha corn production.

2020/21 Brazilian Safrinha Corn Production

StateAcreageEstimated Production% of Total2019/20 Production
 million hectaresmillion metric tons million metric tons
Mato Grosso 5.81 36.15 43.7 34.60
Parana 2.38 13.48 16.3 11.41
Mato Grosso do Sul2.10 11.08 13.4 8.64
Goias 1.65 10.62 12.8 10.39
Minas Gerais 0.60 3.76 4.5 2.85
Sao Paulo 0.53 2.71 3.2 2.33
Source: Conab April 2021 Crop Report