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Weather Woes Persist for South American Row Crops
USAgNet - 03/18/2021

Brazil and Argentina's weather situation has been a tale of opposites in recent weeks, and agricultural output is suffering. Too much rain continues to delay both the soybean harvest and planting of the safrinha corn crop in Brazil. Simultaneously, production estimates have been cut as drought conditions plague row-crop production in Argentina.

As of early last week, Brazilian farmers had harvested around 35 per cent of the planted soybean area, the slowest pace in a decade. This compares to 49pc at the same time last year and a five-year average of 53pc.

Unseasonably dry conditions at the start of planting in October and November means the crop is a little later than usual, but far more critically, bouts of heavy rain across many production regions in February and early March have prevented farmers from accessing fields to harvest the ripe crop. Tocantins hardest hit

The Northern Brazil state of Tocantins has been the hardest hit by the deluge. It rained almost every day in February, and received around 615 millimetres, more than twice the state's monthly average. There are also significant issues in northern Mato Grosso, parts of Goias, Piaui, Maranhao, Para, and Parana.

The quality of the output is a growing concern for farmers and exporters alike. Some farmers in Tocantins have reportedly abandoned their crops due to seeds sprouting and rotting in the pod. And grain buyers have refused to accept the worst soybeans because they have inadequate capacity to dry the high-moisture product, and limited ability to blend out the low-quality soybeans on to export shipments while still meeting contract standards.

However, it appears the flooded paddocks and rotten beans are more a regional issue than a nation-wide problem, as crop estimates are holding up despite the stories of doom and gloom. Brazilian Government forecaster Conab raised its soybean production forecast by 1.3 million tonnes (Mt) last week to a record 135.1Mt. The USDA also raised its Brazilian soybean production estimate by 1Mt to 134Mt in its March supply update.

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