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Brazil Corn Yields Set to Decline, Gro Predicts

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Brazil’s corn yields are currently forecasted to fall short of last year’s record levels, according to Gro’s machine learning-based Brazil Corn Yield Forecast Model, which began issuing daily, in-season updates this week. 

In addition, an expected drop in planted acreage indicates 2023/24 corn production will decline year over year. Brazil’s CONAB estimates 21 million hectares of corn will be planted in 2023/24, down 6% from 2022/23.  

Planting is in the early stages for Brazil’s second corn crop, or safrinha, which accounts for some 70% of the country’s total corn production. The crop is planted immediately following the soybean harvest to avoid the corn crop maturing in the dry season, which starts in mid-April. If harvesting is delayed for Brazil’s soybean crop, which got off to a late start, that in turn could add risk for the corn crop. 

Brazil corn’s reduced yield outlook comes as the crop is going in the ground amid some of the lowest soil moisture readings in more than a decade, as shown in this display from Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, weighted for Brazil’s corn-growing regions. Soil moisture levels began dropping sharply after the first week of December and currently remain near 14-year lows. 

Recent rains in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s top safrinha corn producer, has boosted soil moisture levels in the state, but this is offset by dry conditions in other areas, including Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul, the No. 2 and 3 producing states. With only 5% of the safrinha crop in the ground as of January 20, there is still plenty of time for a recovery, but the situation bears monitoring.

February and March weather will be crucial to this year’s safrinha crop. If the remainder of Brazil’s rainy season delivers enough precipitation to recharge soil moisture, the corn crop could improve — but continued erratic rainfall could cause significant problems.  

Gro’s medium-term forecast data currently shows near-to-above-normal rainfall for most of Brazil in February. Central Brazil will receive below-average rainfall in March, while southern Brazil will have above-average rainfall in April, Gro data shows. However, forecasts made months in advance contain a high degree of uncertainty.  

Brazil became the world’s No. 1 corn exporter in 2023 — surpassing the US — but a drop in production this year could knock the country from the top spot.

Meanwhile, Argentina's corn crop is currently in good condition, according to Gro’s Argentina Corn Yield Forecast Model, rebounding from last year’s drought-ravaged crop. However, the country’s corn-growing regions face drier weather in the next seven days before rains return in early February, according to short-term forecasts in Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture.  

Gro’s Brazil Corn Monitor and Argentina Corn Monitor allow users to follow the corn crops’ progress with daily updating yield forecasts from our machine learning-based models, readings from the Gro Drought Index, and supply and demand balance sheets. 

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