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November 19, 2020

Drought Losses Mount for Farmers in Santa Catarina in S. Brazil

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

Farmers in the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil are suffering from one of the most severe droughts in recent memory. In western Santa Catarina, the rainfall deficits in 2020 are running at 400 mm (16 inches) to 500 mm (20 inches) with the driest areas up to 900 mm (36 inches).

Corn is the summer crop that has been the impacted the most by the dry weather. Members of the Copercampos Cooperative are already indicating a 50% reduction in corn yields with some fields at a complete loss.

Dairy farmers are seeing their silage corn severely impacted by the drought. The lack of pastures and silage corn is forcing some dairy farmers to send some of their dairy cows to market. The volume of the corn silage has been reduced so much that farmers are being forced to harvest for silage corn that was intended for grain production. Even then, the silage will be of poor quality because some of the corn never produced any normal-size ears. Santa Catarina is the fourth largest milk producing state in Brazil and the western part of the state is responsible for 70% of the state's milk production.

For soybeans, the dry weather is delaying the end of the soybean planting past the closing of the ideal planting window, which is November 20th. Soybean yields start to decline if the crop is planted after that date. Some soybeans were planted in dry soil and they are still waiting for rainfall in order to germinate.

The winter wheat crop in the state was also impacted by the dry weather. An agronomists for the Copercampos Cooperative indicated that when the wheat harvest started, yields were in the range of 70 to 80 sacks per hectare (62 to 71 bu/ac), but they fell to 45 to 50 sacks per hectare (40 to 44 bu/ac) by the time the harvest ended. The overall wheat yields for the members of the cooperative ended up down 30% from initial expectations. Even with the lower yields, farmers still made a little money on their wheat due to the very high local wheat prices of R$ 85.00 per sack or approximately $7.30 per bushel.

Other livestock producers are also being impacted by the drought. Some hog and poultry producers have run out of water for their livestock. More than 110 poultry producers have suspended production due to a lack of water and others are trucking-in water for their livestock and human consumption.

Making the situation even worse for livestock producers are the high prices for feed ingredients. Corn prices in the region have doubled since earlier this year and soybean meal prices have tripled, if you can find any soybean meal to purchase.