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Summer Heat Taking a Heavy Toll on Crops

Summer Heat Taking a Heavy Toll on Crops


Summer Heat Taking a Heavy Toll on Crops

Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)

Summer crop production forecasts are tumbling in South America as drought conditions continue to build soil moisture deficits and crop stress in Southern Brazil and much of Argentina. The La Nina weather pattern threatens to scuttle the production potential of large tracts of this season’s corn and soybean plantings, further tightening global balance sheets. Ironically, it is a tale of two woes for Brazil – it is too dry in the south and too wet in parts of the north.

Harvest has started about 20 days earlier than last year on the earliest planted crops. But frequent rains in the northern states have resulted in harvest delays and quality downgrades. While not an issue at this early point in the season, the rains are also delaying the planting of the second corn crop into the recently harvested fields. But the dryness in the south is the biggest issue, with Paran – the country’s third-biggest soybean-producing state – the hardest hit.

The drought has engulfed the state at such a rapid rate that, late last week, only 30 per cent of the crop was considered to be in good-to-excellent condition. That is down from 57pc two weeks earlier and 92pc in early December. About 31pc of the soybean area is in poor condition. To put this in perspective, in recent years, the worst early January rating for the Paran soybean crop was 58pc good-to-excellent and 12pc poor in 2019.

The second worst was in 2021 when the crop was rated 79pc good-to-excellent with only 3pc in poor shape. Brazil is the world’s biggest producer of soybeans – almost 70pc of which are exported. A decline in Brazilian output will have significant consequences for global supply and demand outcomes. There have been production downgrades from several prominent private consultancies and market analysts in the past week.

Brazil-based consultancy AgRural cut its soybean crop estimate by a whopping 11.3 million tonnes to 133.4 million tonnes and is now forecasting the smallest crop since the 2015-16 season. AgRural said that Paran had undoubtedly been the hardest hit. However, production forecasts have also been reduced in the Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and – to a lesser extent – Mato Grosso do Sul. Further north in Mato Grosso, the biggest soybean-producing state, the season has been much kinder, and harvest has started. Early yields there are in line with expectations, according to AgRural.