Nov 12, 2020

Drought Continues to Impact State of Santa Catarina in S. Brazil

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

Farmers in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina continue to suffer from a prolonged drought that started in June of 2019. The driest areas are in the western part of the state where the moisture deficit for 2020 is already 800 mm (32 inches). This is the most severe drought in the state since 2005.

What makes the situation even more precarious is the long range forecast that is calling for below normal rainfall until at least January. The drought is being attributed to a strengthening La Nina in the Pacific Ocean which is now moderate-to-borderline strong. Local government officials have declared a state of emergency and trucks have been hauling water to rural areas for livestock and human consumption. Many farmers are reporting that their wells have run dry.

The crops impacted the most thus far have been corn and pastures. The western part of the state accounts for over 80% of the milk production in the state and dairy farmers rely heavily on silage corn to feed their dairy cows. Unfortunately, the silage corn has already been impacted by the dry weather with loses estimated at 10% to 20% and growing. For some of the corn that was planted in July, loses are up to 90%.

A lot of the corn failed to produce ears which is the most valuable part of the plant especially for the dairy cows. Farmers would like to replant their silage corn, but they can't until they receive additional rainfall. In addition to problems with the corn production, pastures have also been impacted and dairy farmers are being forced to purchase hay for their dairy cows.

The state of Santa Catarina is Brazil's largest hog producing state and the second largest poultry producer. Farmers in the state cannot produce enough corn to meet the local demand forcing them to import corn from the states in central Brazil. The drought is impacting the corn produced in the state for grain, which will force livestock producers to import even more corn than normal from states in central Brazil. Domestic corn prices in Brazil are currently at record high levels, which is very bad news for livestock producers in the state.

The state of Santa Catarina is not a big soybean producer, but soybean planting is also being delayed by the dry conditions. Farmers would like to have their soybeans planted by mid-November, but that is not going to happen this year. Soybeans could still be planted until the end of December, but soybeans planted that late could run the risk of freezing temperatures before the crop matures.