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May 12, 2021

2020/21 Brazil Safrinha Corn Production Continues to Decline

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

The combination of historically late planting and an early end to the summer rainy season is resulting in very significant moisture stress for the safrinha corn in south-central Brazil. There are also now dryness concerns in southern and eastern Mato Grosso as well. It is estimated that 60% or more of the safrinha corn is in various stages of moisture stress.

The forecast is calling for some rain in the middle of this week for parts of Parana and far southern Mato Grosso do Sul. Amounts may be as much as 1.0 inch and coverage is yet to be determined. If these rains verify, they would only be a temporary reprieve for approximately 15% of the safrinha corn. There is virtually no rain in the forecast for most of central Brazil.

As a result, the 2020/21 Brazilian corn estimate was lowered 3 million tons to 97 million. The safrinha corn crop is now estimated at 70.5 million tons with the full-season corn estimated at 24.5 million and the third crop is estimated at 1.8 million. It is very difficult to say where the bottom might be for the Brazilian corn estimate, but I did lower the minimum to 85 million tons.

Safrinha corn yields are going to be down across Brazil and I am estimating the yields might be down 10% in Mato Grosso, 25% in Parana, 20% in Mato Grosso do Sul, 10% in Goias, 20% in Minas Gerais, and 25% in Sao Paulo.

Safrinha Corn Rainfall - April rainfall for the safrinha corn in south-central Brazil was at historical low levels. In fact, some of the areas started to turn dry in early March. Analog years of April rainfall for the safrinha corn would be 2002 and 2020 according to Maxar Weather, but if you isolate just south-central areas such as the states of Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Sao Paulo, and Minas Gerais, the rainfall this April was as dry as or dryer than 2002.

In both 2002 and 2020, the rainfall picked a bit during the month of May, but that is not expected to be the case this year with very little rainfall expected across most of the safrinha corn areas during the first three weeks of May. If the dry forecast verifies, the April-May rainfall for the safrinha corn will end up being the driest by far going back to at least 2000. The only rain in the forecast is for parts of Parana and far southern Mato Grosso do Sul.

There is not much time left for the safrinha corn to recuperate. By the end of May, the vast majority of the safrinha corn will be past pollination and into grain fill, so if it stays dry until the end of May, there will be little opportunity for the corn to recuperate.

Mato Grosso Safrinha Corn - The state of Mato Grosso is the largest safrinha corn producing state in Brazil accounting for approximately 45% of the total production. The rainfall has been better in Mato Grosso, but the crop conditions are quite variable in the state and the forecast is calling for below normal rainfall. The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) recently lowered their estimate of the statewide safrinha corn yield from 102.51 sacks per hectare (97.7 bu/ac) to 101.42 sacks per hectare (96.7 bu/ac).

The best weather has been in the northwestern quarter of the state with driest weather in the southeastern quarter of the state.

Imea Lowers Safrinha Corn Yield in Mato Grosso - The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) lowered their estimate of the statewide safrinha corn yield from 102.51 sacks per hectare (97.7 bu/ac) to 101.42 sacks per hectare (96.7 bu/ac) due to dryer than normal conditions in parts of the state. Imea is now estimating the safrinha corn production in the state at 34.6 million tons, which is 2.3% below what was produced in 2019/20. Mato Grosso is the largest safrinha corn producing state in Brazil accounting for approximately 45% of Brazil's production.

The state of Mato Grosso has had the best weather thus far for safrinha corn especially northern and western Mato Grosso, but even in Mato Grosso, the weather has been variable. Take for example the municipality of Sorriso, which is the largest safrinha corn producing municipality in Brazil. The corn in Sorriso was planted 20-30 days later than normal with 40% of the corn planted after the ideal window had closed.

The rainfall distribution has been very irregular with one part of the municipality receiving over an inch of rainfall with other areas staying dry. Up until about ten days ago, many areas had gone 20-30 days without rain. Farmers had expected yields in the range of 100 sacks per hectare (95.4 bu/ac), but many farmers are now expecting lower yields. In some areas of the state, it has been more than 35 days since the last rain and corn losses are estimated in the range of 20% or more.

Imea indicated that the production estimate might move even lower because the forecast is calling for below normal rainfall for the next several weeks in Mato Grosso.

Parana Safrinha Corn - The safrinha corn was planted much later than normal in Parana due to the delayed soybean harvest and now the summer rainy season is ending earlier than normal resulting in deteriorating conditions for the safrinha corn.

The Department of Rural Economics (Deral) earlier last week rated the safrinha corn in Parana as 27% poor, 45% average, and 28% good. The percentage of the crop rated good continues to decline on a weekly basis. A month ago, the percentage of the crop rated good was as high as 90%. The corn was 1% germinating/emerging, 52% in vegetative development, 32% pollinating, 12% filling grain, and 3% mature.

In parts of western Parana, the last significant rain was on March 16th and since then they have received only 6 mm of rainfall (0.2 inches). According to data from the company Geosys Brasil, the topsoil moisture in Parana is the driest in the last 30 years and the vegetative index for the safrinha corn is the lowest in the last 5 growing seasons.

Mato Grosso do Sul Safrinha Corn - Geosys Brasil indicated that the soil moisture situation is similar in neighboring Mato Grosso do Sul as well. In their weekly bulletin, the Agriculture and Livestock Federation of Mato Grosso do Sul (Famasul) reported that only 13% of the safrinha corn in the state was rated in good condition.

In the municipality of Maracaju, which is located in southern Mato Grosso do Sul, parts of the municipality have not received rain for 60 days and the corn is now entering reproduction. In addition to dryness, farmers are also concerned that freezing temperatures may impact the late planted corn before it reaches maturity.

Goias Safrinha Corn - In the state of Goias the soil moisture and vegetation index are also low, but not as bad as the states further south. The condition of the crop in Goias will probably decline in the coming days because there is no rain in the forecast for the next 10-15 days.

Minas Gerais Safrinha Corn - According to the regional coordinator of Emater-MG in northwestern Minas Gerais, the irregular rains are expected to reduce the safrinha corn yields by 20% to 30%. Farmers had been expecting yields of 90 sacks per hectare (85.8 bu/ac) and now the yields are expected to be in the range of 60 sacks per hectare (57.2 bu/ac).

On Wednesday, May 12th, Conab will issue their May Crop Report with updated estimates for the 2020/21 safrinha corn production. In their April report, they estimated Brazil's 2020/21 corn production at 108.9 million tons. The USDA will also issue their May report on the same day and last month they estimated the Brazilian corn production at 109 million tons.