Aug 16, 2023

A Potential Strong El Nino Worries Brazilian Farmers

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

El Nino has officially returned to the Pacific Ocean and the Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) indicated that there is a 95% probability it will persist through December and February of 2024, which is the heart of Brazil's growing season.

This strong El Nino could be different than past episodes in 1982-83 and 1997-98 because other factors are increasing ocean temperatures in various parts of the world. The already warmer ocean temperatures could intensify El Nino's impact.

Brazilian farmers are concerned because a strong El Nino, which is what is predicted, can have a significant negative impact on Brazil's agricultural production. Generally, an El Nino can result in above normal rainfall in southern Brazil and below normal rainfall in central and northern Brazil.

The Brazilian National Weather Service (Inmet) has already forecast above normal rainfall in southern Brazil for the August-September-October period and below normal rainfall for the same period in central and northern Brazil.

If this forecast verifies for southern Brazil, it could delay soybean and corn planting, which in turn, could delay safrinha corn planting next January and February. Dry weather in central Brazil could delay soybean planting which in turn, could also delay the safrinha corn planting. If the soybean planting is delayed, it may or may not impact soybean yields. If the safrinha corn planting is delayed, there is an increased risk of lower corn yields.

Brazil's wheat crop could also be negatively impacted by heavy rains in southern Brazil during September and October when the wheat is being harvested. Wet conditions during harvest can result in poor quality wheat.

In addition to impacting grain production, a strong El Nino could also impact coffee, horticultural crops, and citrus. All of these were negatively impacted by the last three El Nino episodes.