Weather Challenges Continue to Lower South American Crop Yields


Weather concerns continue to lower the anticipated corn and soybean harvest in South America. Dr. Michael Cordonnier is an agronomist with Corn and Soybean Advisor, Incorporated. He says Argentina is looking at another round of dry weather,

“The main area of concern is central and northern Argentina. I left my estimates unchanged for both corn and soybeans in Argentina, but both of those crops need two more months to reach maturity. Now, I think the soybeans are probably more at risk because they’re right now setting pods and filling products, so they need the rain as soon as possible. The late-planted corn could go a little bit longer because they just finished planting a couple of weeks ago, so they get a little bit more time to spare, but I think this forecast is worrisome in Argentina, I really do.”

Some of the key areas in Brazil are struggling with the weather too. “The big problem is Southern Brazil, Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, those yields there are very poor as expected. They’ve had a very severe drought; some people say the worst they’ve ever seen, so it’s very concerning. There was hope that the state of Rio Grande do Sul, which is tied for second place in soybean production, could recuperate because those beans are planted last of any place in Brazil, but I think that hope is now fading because the weather started going drier and does not have much rain in the forecast and it’s just a bad situation.”

He says the yields in Paraguay are of such poor quality that the country had to import soybeans from Argentina for the first time in history. Brazil farmers are getting off to a good start in planting their second-corn crop.

“The Safriña corn, as of Monday, was 24 percent planted. Now, that’s compared to three percent last year. The last year was very, very late, but 24 percent is good. And I think the northern half of the Safriña corn in states like Mato Grosso and Goias should be okay. It’ll get planted on time, and there’s a lot of soil moisture, maybe too much in some areas. The northern half of the crop is gonna do, I think, okay, at least for the time being. The southern half of the crop remains to be seen.”

He says the stark contrast between dry and wet weather in growing areas is not typical in South America.

“We were warning about La Niña way back, months and months ago. In August, September, October, it didn’t have any impact, and everybody said where’s La Niña? Well, it came in in force in November, December, and January, much worse than what was anticipated. They had forecasted drier-than-normal, but someplace like Rio Grande do Sul saw their last rain sometime in November. This is a subtropical part of Brazil, so they get lots of rain, but this year, it was just really, really bad, with a lot of people saying it’s the worst in 30-40 years for drought. And it’s a very sharp cutoff. The northern part of a production area had too much rain, way too much rain, and the southern part had way too little. So, it was very atypical this year.”

His earlier Brazil crop estimate was for 145 million tons and is now at 130 million tons with a lower bias. Cordonnier’s current crop estimate for Argentina is at 51 million tons after starting at 55 million.