Luckily for Tocantins state farmers like Ze Edigar Andrade, my birthday wasn’t the only thing that fell at the outset of last week. “We got rain,” he wrote me in a congratulatory Facebook message, “for the first time in 160 days.”
It’s natural for much of Brazil to deal with a May-through-August dry season. And the return of precipitation, normally in the second half of September, can be timid most years. But Brazilians are indeed noticing a shortfall this year that wasn’t included in meteorologist’s late August forecasts. See my August 28th blog for more on this.
Spotty and irregular
Within the soybean-producing region, forecast rains have often either not materialized or have ended up rather spotty and uneven affairs. As with Andrade’s case, few are talking about true drought conditions—but it’s been dry enough that the local government in Brasilia is planning one water-free day to see if such a measure is enough to get reservoirs back up to desired levels. You’ll note I didn’t say one water-free day a week. They’re talking about a day or two, total, of water rationing.
All this time, it’s been raining nicely in the southern portion of the country. Down in Parana state, producers have an estimated 91% of this season’s bean crop in the ground even as those up in Mato Grosso are just over 31% done planting. That slow Mato Grosso planting pace is approximately 17% behind the same week of 2016, with farmers there peering up at the sky and re-checking the forecast. The most recent Mato Grosso rains have been between just four-tenths and seven-tenths of an inch—and they need a lot more than that, given the low-clay soil conditions.
Luckily for them, Brazil’s Inmet—the national weather service—is calling for more significant rains this week across a broad stretch of central Brazil.
Can they make up for a slow start?
Of course, those were the same folks who were so serene about this season’s precip patterns back in late August.
So while it’s been a slow start, I’m guessing the Thanksgiving messages from South America are going to be quite a bit more upbeat.
The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress.