December 23, 2011


Key soy areas in Brazil, Argentina still dry



Brazil and Argentina's central soy areas have not gotten enough rain in recent days to fully ease fields that are scorching under the southern hemisphere's summer sun, experts said Thursday (Dec 22).


There has been no rain to speak of in Brazil's key south and center-west farming zones over the past three days. And the showers that have fallen in Argentina's soy belt have been too scattered and inconsistent to help parched plants.


"Today was the longest day of the year. It was also the hottest day in a decade and this has been the driest December in the century," said a grains farmer in Brazil's Parana state. "I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up with it raining."


Parana is expected to get 19 millimetres of rain between Thursday and early next week. The state has been dry in December but has seen slightly better rainfall than Rio Grande do Sul in the past weeks and ended November with above-average rainfall.


Parana soy crops are further along in development than in Rio Grande do Sul, having been planted several weeks earlier.


The state's crop is more than 30% flowering and will begin the critical pod filling stage in the coming weeks when consistent soil moisture is essential for the formation of beans.


Brazil's main center-west states, with some isolated exceptions of dryness, have seen excellent rainfall in the past weeks. No. 1 soy state Mato Grosso is expected to begin early harvesting of a record soy crop of 22.2 million tonnes, 30% of Brazil's soy output, next week.


Rainfall in western Rio Grande do Sul growing areas has been extremely light in December, with only 18 millimetres compared with an average of 131 mm that normally falls in that region over the entire month of December, Somar data showed. That's 86% shy of average rainfall in December and November was 47% below average rainfall for western Rio Grande do Sul.


Four to nine mm of light scattered showers are expected to fall on parts of the state's growing areas over the weekend.


The trend for both Brazil and Argentina remains hot and dry, consistent with La Nina conditions, which tend to produce drier weather to the southern cone.


"It has rained but it has been very uneven," said Argentine climatologist Eduardo Sierra. " The areas that got showers received 30-40 millimetres, which is enough for them to get by but not enough to really improve the situation."


Argentina is the world's No. 3 soy producer after the US and Brazil. Argentina is also the second biggest international corn supplier.


"Corn is the most exposed to the dry weather because it is finishing its critical development stage without water," he added. "Soy can wait for rain until mid January."


Regular rainfall is critical for the germination and healthy development of soy, which serves as the world's most important source of protein.

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