Jul 01, 2021

Frosts Impacting Safrinha Corn in South-Central Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

A mass of artic air swept into southern Brazil this week with the coldest temperatures of the season thus far. Widespread frosts/freezes were reported across southern Brazil and Paraguay for three consecutive nights.

The crop most impacted by the freezing temperatures is safrinha corn. The safrinha corn was planted extremely late, it then encountered a historic drought, and now it is being impacted by unusually cold temperatures. As a result, estimates for the 2020/21 Brazilian corn production continue to move lower.

In the state of Parana for example, a corn specialists from the Department of Rural Economics (Deral) estimated that 1.8 million hectares of the 2.5 million hectares of safrinha corn in the state (72%) was at a stage of development that could be negatively impacted by the cold temperatures.

Deral reported that as of last Monday, 11% of the safrinha corn in Parana was pollinating, 62% was filling grain, 27% was mature, and 2% was harvested. The corn was rated 33% poor, 41% average, and 26% good.

The amount of damage caused by the frosts depends primarily on the stage of development of the crop. The greatest damage will occur in the crop that is still pollinating or starting to fill the grain. The least amount of damage will occur in the crop that is mature or approaching maturity. It takes a few days after a frost to judge the extend of the damage which could range from slight damage to potentially a complete loss of the crop.

Deral had already reduced their initial expectations of the safrinha corn crop by approximately 5 million tons to 9.8 million. The corn specialists for Deral indicated that their estimate of the safrinha corn crop will move lower once the full extent of the frost damage is known.

There will be a wide range of losses from the drought and cold temperatures. In the municipality of Marechal Candido in western Parana for example, the President of the Rural Syndicate estimated that some fields that had been expected to produce as much as 120 sacks per hectare (114 bu/ac) may now be as low as 30 sacks per hectare (28.6 bu/ac).

The safrinha corn in the states of Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, Sao Paulo, Goias, and Minas Gerais had already been severely impacted by some of the driest weather ever recorded in south-central Brazil. Losses from the frosts will make a bad situation even worse.

The damage is also expected to be severe in neighboring Paraguay where the corn crop experienced strong frosts/freezes. This is important for end-users of corn in Brazil because they have been importing corn from Paraguay due to the lack of available corn supplies in Brazil.