Farmers in South America are planting first-crop corn and soybeans and making good progress. Dr. Michael Cordonnier is an agronomist with Soybean and Corn Advisor, Incorporated. He says planting progress continues, but there are signs of dry weather in Argentina.
“First of all, La Niña is official, and the question is how it might impact South America. Usually, La Niña results in drier than normal weather in Argentina and Brazil. I think those conditions already exist in Argentina; the corn there is at 23 percent planted and less than 1 percent of the soybeans planted. So, I think the initial concern should be in Argentina.”
He says the situation is very different in Brazil. “The weather is improving; the rains are becoming heavier, more widespread. Soybeans are 22 planted; that compares to 8 percent last year, and the soybean plant is now the second-fastest on record. The big state of Mato Grosso is 45 percent plant that on soybeans. That’s up 24 points for the week. That’s a really good week.”
Cordonnier says Brazil’s second-corn crop last year was a “disaster.” The good news is the quick start to this growing season helps the safrina corn crop too. “That corn is going to be planted on time because the soybeans have been planted so early. Now for the full-season corn in Brazil, which is only like 25% of the total, they’re approaching 50 percent planted. It’s been very good in Rio Grande do Sul, and too wet in parts of Panama for the planting. So, I would say, Brazil is off to a better than average start. We started kind of slow in September, but boy, since the first of October, the rains have really been good, and they’re getting better. And it’s starting to rain now in northeastern Brazil, which is early for them, so it’s like pedal to the metal all across Brazil.”
Like farmers in the U.S., Brazilian farmers might be staring down the barrel of a fertilizer and herbicide shortage when it’s time to plant the second-corn crop. “Brazil’s importing a record amount of fertilizer this year, like 40 million tons, but the concern is will you get it in time out in Mato Grosso, where it’s needed the most, so, there is a concern. My guess is there’s going to be some delays and some bottlenecks and some shortfalls, so it may be that they might apply a little bit less fertilizer for the Safrina corn. They’re also having problems getting Roundup, that’s being delayed, and in Brazil, they have banned Paraquat, which is the herbicide used for burndown before they plant soybeans. It’s also used for a desiccant when they try to dry down the soybeans very quickly during the rainy season so they can harvest. So, they got some chemical issues and also some fertilizer issues.”
He says one thing is certain in South America, and that is Brazil’s corn crop will be much bigger than last year. “Last year was a complete disaster. So, it’s gonna be bigger; how much bigger remains to be seen. There is still concern about La Niña; we’ll see if a good start to the rainy season may turn dry, which is what they are predicting for southern Brazil, dry in November, December, January, so that remains to be seen. But for now, Brazil is off to a better than average start.”
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