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May 26, 2021

Rainfall Offers Limited Relief to Brazil's 2020/21 Safrinha Corn

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

The safrinha corn areas of Brazil received some much-anticipated rainfall over this past weekend. The amounts and the coverage were variable with the heaviest amounts falling in southeastern Mato Grosso, southwestern Goias, and northern Mato Grosso do Sul. In that limited area, rainfall amounts were in the range of 2-3-4-5 inches.

Rainfall amounts in western Parana and southern Mato Grosso do Sul were much less in the range of half an inch to three quarters of an inch. There is more rainfall in the forecast for this week, but probably not as much as was received over the weekend.

The rainfall was beneficial for some of the latest planted corn, but it came too late for much of the safrinha corn that had not received a rain for 40-50-60 days. It will probably be enough to keep the crop from experiencing the "worst case scenario."

The 2020/21 Brazilian corn crop is now estimated at 95.0 million acres with the safrinha corn crop estimated at 68.5 million tons with the full-season corn estimated at 24.5 million and the third crop is estimated at 1.8 million. My minimum for the 2020/21 Brazil corn estimate is 85 million tons, but it now seems less likely that the corn production could fall that low.

According to Professor Paulo Sentelhas from the University of Sao Paulo, who is also the spokesperson for Agrymet, the moisture situation in south-central Brazil is the most critical in 41 years. The dry cycle started in March and April of last year and persisted until last November. Rains during December and January were irregular and then it turned dry again in March and April of this year. The rains this past weekend were beneficial, but outside of the areas with the heaviest amounts, they only offered a temporary reprieve from the overall dry conditions.

The dryness is not only impacting the current safrinha corn crop, it has also impacted the full-season corn, soybeans, sugarcane, coffee, and oranges.

Mato Grosso Safrinha Corn - The weekend rains were beneficial for the safrinha corn that had been suffering from moisture deficits for the last 1-2 months. The rains were heaviest in what had been the driest part of the state, which was southern and southeastern Mato Grosso.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) is estimating that the safrinha corn yields in Mato Grosso will be down 7% while AgroConsult estimates that they will be down 14% and Aprosoja-MT estimates they will be down 20% or more. Imea estimates that 45% of the corn was planted after the ideal planting window had closed and rainfall has been light and irregular during April and the first three weeks of May.

The average price of corn in Mato Grosso during April was R$ 67.50 per sack (approximately $5.68 per bushel), which represented an increase of 129% compared to April of 2020 when the price was R$ 29.40 per sack (approximately $2.47 per bushel). Farmers are also starting to forward contract their 2021/22 anticipated corn production at an average price of R$ 56.36 per sack (approximately $4.74 per bushel), which represents an increase of 92% compared to a year earlier.

Parana Safrinha Corn - Earlier last week, the Department of Rural Economics (Deral) rated the safrinha corn in Parana as 31% poor, 46% average, and 23% good. The corn is 1% emerging, 24% in vegetative development, 51% pollinating, 21% filling grain, and 3% mature. The lowest rated corn is in the western part of the state which has been the driest.

Over this past weekend, western and northern Parana received a half an inch to three quarters of an inch of precipitation. It was not enough to relieve the dryness, but it did offer a temporary reprieve.

The President of the Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Parana (Aprosoja-PR) estimates that the safrinha corn production will be down 40% or more because many areas of the state were 60 days without significant rain until this past weekend. In the western part of the state, some of the safrinha corn was planted as late as March 20th and the crop received its first rain on May 20th. The late planted corn also runs the risk of frost damage before the crop matures.

The President of Aprosoja-PR also raised the possibility that farmers are at risk of not being able to meet their commitment to deliver the corn they had forward contracted due to low yields. He raised this issue last week in a meeting with the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture.

Goias Safrinha corn - Farmers in the state of Goias in central Brazil are very concerned about their safrinha corn production. Much of the corn was planted later than normal and the weather has been very dry since the corn was planted. In many areas of the state, it had been more than 30 days without a rain until this past weekend when they did receive good rains. Statewide, it is estimated that the safrinha corn production will be down at least 20% from initial expectations.

The corn that was planted within the ideal window had acceptable early growth, but it was under moisture stress as it was pollinating and entering grain fill. According to the president of Aprosoja-GO, farmers who had expected corn yields of 120 to 130 sacks per hectare (114 to 124 bu/ac) are now expecting yields in the range of 100 sacks per hectare (95.4 bu/ac).

It is estimated that 35% of the corn was planted after the ideal planting had closed and it is the late planted corn that has suffered the most from a lack of moisture. The late planted corn had poor early growth and yield losses are estimated at 50% with some fields as high as 100% loss. The state did receive some good rains over the weekend, and it remains to be seen how beneficial they will be for the safrinha corn.

Farmers are being advised to be pay close attention to increased pest pressures especially from corn leaf hoppers, but some farmers are hesitant to spend more money on a crop that is expected to be very disappointing. With the delayed planting, the corn harvest in Goias is now expected to start in late June or early July.

Farmers in Goias have forward contracted approximately 30% of the anticipated corn production, but they are now hesitant to contract any more before they are more confident of their production.

Mato Grosso do Sul Safrinha Corn - According to the Agriculture and Livestock confederation of Mato Grosso do Sul (Famasul), only 8% of the safrinha corn in the state is classified as being in good condition. Up until this past weekend, the state has not received any significant rain in approximately 45 days. The corn is now entering its reproductive phase and Famasul is estimating the statewide corn yield at 75 sacks per hectare (71 bu/ac). The average spot price of corn last week was R$ 94.63 per sack (approximately $7.96 per bushel), which represents an increase of 140% compared to a year earlier when the price was R$ 39.75 per sack (approximately $3.34 per bushel).

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

2020/21 Brazilian Safrinha Corn Production

State AcreageEstimated Production% of Total2019/20 Production
  million hectaresmillion metric tons million metric tons
Mato Grosso 5.81 36.15 45.3 34.60
Parana 2.49 12.46 15.6 11.41
Mato Grosso do Sul 2.11 10.35 12.9 8.64
Goias 1.65 10.03 12.5 10.39
Minas Gerais 0.60 3.66 4.5 2.85
Sao Paulo 0.54 2.24 2.8 2.33

Source: Conab May 2021 Crop Report