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Drought impacting most Brazilian corn farms

iStock/Getty Images young corn in dry ground
Some Brazilian corn producing states register the lowest soil moisture in 30 years.

In Brazil it all started with weather issues last year: soybean planting was delayed, that then turned into the soybean harvest delay, and is now dragging onto the safrinha (second crop) corn. The lack of rain in important producing regions (a great share of Brazil’s territory) in the past weeks may limit the crop yield in about 40% of the impacted acres.

CNALocations where corn production is concentrated in Brazil

Locations where corn production is concentrated in Brazil.

“We planted with a delay of three weeks in comparison to 2020,” says Rogério Berwanger from Itapiranga Farm, a 2,800-acre farm in Mato Grosso. “It rained 1.25 inches (32 millimeters) so far. We are accounting a loss of around 30% to 50% in our farm’s total area. The final number will depend on how much it rains this May. The corn has already lost its height and potential.”

The price of corn continues higher and should remain like that for the next weeks, even with the start of the safrinha harvest. The potential production was set at 90 million tons (3.5 billion bushels of corn), but with the irreversible losses in big producing states due to drought, this number will most likely fall to 75 million tons (2.9 billion bushels of corn), a reduction of around 16% compared to last year.

Market analyst Vlamir Brandalizze said “even though there are losses, since the national demand for corn is around 40 million tons (1.5 billion bushels of corn), that still leaves room for 35 million tons (1.3 billion bushels of corn) to export, so there shouldn’t be a lack of corn. Now we hope that rain starts falling and the losses don’t increase.”

Portal DBOBrazil’s drought-impacted corn crop.

Brazil’s drought-impacted corn crop.

The drought that targeted the month of April in the Mid-South region, the part of Brazil that produces most of the nation’s corn, has dragged on to the beginning of May. Hopefully this scenario changes halfway through the month and rain falls again, so that the losses do not exceed over half of the production.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 
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