A north-south divide has emerged in Brazil’s safrinha corn, with dryness testing the crop in the top growing state of Mato Grosso, while that in second-ranked Parana was upgraded to a record high – although amid forecasts that the lack of rainfall will prevail.

Deral, the official agricultural department for the southern state of Parana, nudged higher by 80,000 tonnes to 16.0m tonnes its forecast for state output of safrinha, or second-crop, corn.

That would be a record high, and nearly three times the 5.72m tonnes that Parana produced last year, on Deral estimates, following frost and drought damage.

This time, weather had been “favourable” for “practically every crop, said Deral, which forecast too 20% growth in its wheat crop, which is harvested late in the year, to 3.86m tonnes – although coffee prospects were still dogged by the hangover from 2021 frosts.

Deral trimmed its forecast for Parana’s coffee production this year by 750,000 tonnes to 33,920 tonnes (565,000 bags), down from 51,060 tonnes (851,000 bags) last year.

‘Increasingly concerned’

However, the corn optimism contrasted with growing concerns north west in Mato Grosso, which according to EarthDaily Agro is poised to announce its driest April in 17 years.

The weather service pegged the state’s total rainfall this month at 30mm, equivalent to about 1.2 inches, 70% below the 10-year average.

“Corn producers are increasingly concerned with the drought that has lasted more than a month in several municipalities,” EarthDaily Agro said, adding that its satellite monitoring had detected signs of drought effects on crops.

“The normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) has deteriorated slightly in recent days, showing the first effects of water stress.

“Soil moisture is low and expected to drop even further in the short term, curtailing the second crop’s potential.”

‘No rain in more than a month’

South American crop expert Dr Michael Cordonnier said that “some of the municipalities in the state have not received any rainfall in over a month,” but said that it was “hard to quantify potential corn losses” for Mato Grosso given that other areas had received more ample rain.

In Canarana in the east of the state, for instance, he said that “approximately 50% of the corn already has a good yield potential locked in”, with only 20% requiring plentiful May rains.

Nonetheless, he reported too that dryness had emerged too in neighbouring Goias where April rains were “expected to be 12.5mm compared to the average of 80mm”.

Mato Grosso is forecast by the official Conab bureau to produce 40.0m tonnes of the expected 88.5m tonnes of Brazil’s 2022 safrinha corn production, with Goias ranked fourth, on 10.6m tonnes.

‘Further lower yield prospects’

On Wednesday, Refinitiv cut its forecast for Brazil’s safrinha corn output by 2.03m tonnes to 86.4m tonnes, citing forecasts for continued dryness in major growing areas.

“Unfortunately for farmers, the latest EC/GFS model forecasts indicate hot and dry conditions are expected to linger in much of the Centre West and the South, where more than 90% of Brazil’s second corn is grown,” the analysis group said.

“Continued lack of rain amid hot weather will eventually further lower yield prospects as the prime growing season unfolds, despite still decent topsoil moisture conditions there.”