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Brazil planting delays could support corn prices next year

DES MOINES, Iowa – It’s been too dry for much of October for farmers to get this year’s soybean crop in the ground, according to Iowa State University alum and meteorologist Mike Tannura.

“Many areas are running 2-inch to 4-inch rainfall deficits so far for the month of October,” says Tannura. “It’s not that unusual to see dryness at this time of the year. And that’s still valid, but usually by now we would start to see more rain in the future. But we’re just not seeing the best in the way of rain chances. Remember that in Brazil it’s different from the U.S., in that you need it to rain fairly heavily at the beginning of your growing season in order to increase soil moisture, and then allow planting to begin, and for germination to occur.”

Prior to rainfall over the weekend, particularly in Mato Grosso in central Brazil, farmers there were waiting on rain to fall and replenish dry soils in order to plant this year’s soybean crop.

If producers select an early-maturing soybean variety, they can take advantage of the long tropical growing season in that part of the world and plant a second corn crop, called the safrinha, in February, once their soybeans are harvested. But if planting of the main soybean crop is delayed, prospects for the second crop of corn begin to dim.

“So if this crop ends up being harvested, say one month late,” explains Tannura, “that means the second crop will be planted one month late, and the problem there is that they have a sharp end to the rainy season, which is what we’re waiting for right now. We want that rainy season to begin, but just as it begins very quickly, it can also end very suddenly, and that usually happens in March or April. If that happens suddenly, right after the second crop is planted, that would then become a significant issue for second-planted crops in Brazil. And most of that crop is corn. So that will be an issue in the spring; not so much right now. But there are things going on, and these issues will linger, more than likely, for several months.”