February in Brail typically marks the time of season when early soybean harvest in Central Brazil is in full swing. Following closely behind this harvest is the planting of the region’s second-crop (safrinha) corn, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the country’s corn production. While the start of the growing season was marked by very favorable conditions and a very quick planting of full-season soybeans, conditions have recently taken a turn for the less favorable. Recent rains in main-producer Mato Grosso have caused some delays to the soybean harvest. While the current pace, around 16% complete as of last week, is still faster than the average of 10-12%, it is well behind the expected pace of 25%. Delays in soybean harvest mean that planting of the safrinha corn will also be slightly behind schedule. Currently, around 10% of the crop has been planted. Similar to the soybean harvest, while this is ahead of last year’s pace by around 5%, it is behind the expected pace of 16%.
In the state of Mato Grosso, the “ideal window” for planting safrinha closes in mid-late February. While it isn’t uncommon for some planting to occur into mid-March, crops planted that late run the increased risk of running out of moisture during critical phases of development when Brazil enters its dry time of year. As we saw last year, when a large portion of the safrinha corn crop was planted after the close of the ideal window, delays in planting can be disastrous. Unlike last year, however, conditions are not forecast to be nearly as hot and dry this year which will be more beneficial for the corn crop. Total production estimates are currently varied as the safrinha corn acreage increase from last year is unknown. Some expect only a 4% increase in acreage, while others are calling for a much larger increase at 20%. While there are still a few risks for the weather over the next couple months, the safrinha corn crop is not expected to be decimated like last year.
In the core soybean region of Argentina, farmers finally received a week with little to no rain, abundant sunshine, and favorable temperatures. While some damage was already done thanks to the heavy, flooding rains during January, the drier week helped to steady the soybean crop. The forecast for the next 14 days for this region does include some rainfall, but totals are expected to be generally less than normal which will further aid the crop. The worst of the damage to the soybeans was to the later planted and second crop soybeans and many that were damaged are unable to be replanted. The earlier planted soybeans weathered the heavy rains better since they were already well established in the ground. Across Argentina, approximately 4% of the beans are still only emerging, while 82% are either flowering or setting pods.
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