Brazilian Crops Need Rain

La Nina means an anxious Christmas for farmers in Brazil's South

All they want for Christmas is a good soaking rain. Soybean producers in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul state have been hit hardest by La Nina dry weather that robs the country's south of moisture. And you can't get any farther South in Brazil than that state.

It's already too late for much of the corn, which got hit with La Nina dry weather in the reproductive stage. But there's still a chance for a fairly good bean crop, if the weather gets wet—and soon. There's even a little time left to plant beans if things turn around in short order. That's important because Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil's third-largest bean producing state, with 6.3 million tonnes last year.

But right now, a local weather site indicates morning temps having been rising to as high as 93º by 11:00 a.m. That parked mass of hot air is keeping any rain from sweeping in from Uruguay.

The thing is that the mass of hot air is running up a serious parking meter charge, having been stopped there for nearly two months now. And that has meant poor corn development and tiny ears, along with crop insurance filings.

Farther north, in Brazil's second-largest soybean state, Paraná, things are a little better, but few producers will be able to get their minds off the need for rain as the family rips open gifts in the living room. Farmers across the state have said they're worried about yield losses from the erratic and scanty rains they've gotten. The guys hurting the most are those with poorer soils, but it's a critical period for everyone.

The effect of lower Pacific Ocean surface temperatures - the La Nina effect - hasn't changed rainfall patterns so dramatically. There are emphatic complaints of merely spotty rain in top soybean state Mato Grosso, but those gripes appear not to be widespread and general across the state. At least not yet.

Elsewhere, La Nina has - if anything - increased rainfall. Planters and sprayers have been parked for the past week or so in Goiás and Tocantins states. A producer in northern Tocantins said December rainfall in his area is up to 4.7 inches, against a December historic average of ten inches. So there won't likely be any desperate prayers for rain around the Christmas table at that house.

Way down south, though, there may be welcome clouds appearing soon on the horizon. At this writing, at least one local weather outlet is calling for a merry Christmas for Rio Grande do Sul farmers: A cold front is forecast to elbow into the southern part of the state, and create a chance for rain as it creeps inward across Rio Grande do Sul. By Christmas, the edge of that front should have made it up to Paraná. And that would be just the stocking stuffer southern producers are looking for.

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