Continued dryness would not be all bad for corn and soybean farmers in Brazil’s top growing state.
Yes, there is talk of a couple of months without rain shrinking safrinha corn yields in western areas of Mato Grosso, as state’s harvest begins.
In the municipality of Campo Novo do Parecis, the rural union estimates yields at least one-third below the typical levels of some 105-110 bushels per acre.
However, a lack of rain could at least present farmers with an after-harvest bonus.
A few sizes too small
Growers’ trouble is that, assuming their safrinha corn crop comes in anywhere near expected levels, they haven’t enough silo space to store it in, on top of their newly-harvested soybeans.
According to Conab, Brazil’s official ag bureau, Mato Grosso grain storage capacity has grown by just 625,000 tonnes year on year, to 39.2m tonnes.
However, combined corn and soybean production is expected up by more than 10m tonnes from last year’s drought-affected levels to a little over 80m tonnes, on the bureau’s estimates.
That leaves a deficit of more than 40m tonnes.
Factoring in a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recommendation for capacity to cover 120% of production and the shortfall looks even more severe – north of 57m tonnes.
And this when farmers are proving more reluctant to sell their crop too.
State research institute Imea notes that growers are 5.2 percentage points behind the five-year average on sales of their soybean crop, and by 6.7 points on corn – lags “which may indicate a greater volume of grains stored”.
Hence the desirability of dry weather, post-harvest at least – both to allow crop storage on the ground, a not-infrequent resort for Mato Grosso growers, and to enable what has been sold to get to tarmac or rail as readily as possible.