Brazil’s second-corn crop was hit hard by frost during the final two days of June and the first day of July. Dr. Michael Cordonnier, President of Soybean and Corn Advisor Incorporated, says Brazil hadn’t been that cold in decades.
“It was the coldest air in 20 years, and it was pretty bad. Depending on where you’re at, it either really hurt the corn bad or killed it completely. In fact, I was just watching some farm shows from Brazil on TV, and they showed cornfields in northern Parana, and they were completely brown like they’re ready for harvest, but it was because they were killed by frost. And the crop was about five feet tall, short and stunted, because they had a drought, and the ears were short and stubby, and the kernels were like milk stage, or early dough stage.”
He says the second-corn crop got planted later than it ever had before, was hurt by a historic drought in south-central Brazil, and by an early frost, including another round of frost this week. Cordonnier says this would be comparable to a mid-summer frost for U.S. corn farmers.
“For the late-planted corn in Brazil, this is the equivalent if we here in the United States had three nights of frost in mid-July, and then three nights of more frost during the first week of August. So, it’s just devastating for the crop. I have the crop now at 88 million tons. My numbers are going to go lower next week, for sure, because of the recent frost. We just don’t know how bad it’s going to be yet because they haven’t started to harvest the worst fields.
His yield estimates range from 115 bushels an acre for the best cornfields to zero bushels in the hardest-hit areas. Overall, Cordonnier says the frost this week only added to the level of disaster for Brazilian farmers.
“This was a complete disaster. The frost for the last three nights also got about 20% of the sugar cane in San Paulo, and it hit the coffee as well. So, just the headline yesterday morning, one of the farm websites that I watch said this is a catastrophe, you hurt coffee, sugarcane, and safrina corn. The corn is very bad. Now, this has big implications in the United States: Brazil was supposed to export about 30 to 35 million tons of corn. Now I think we’ll be lucky to do 20 million tons, and it might be less than that.”
Brazil’s domestic price for corn is $8.50 a bushel, which means exporters will pay the penalty to break their contracts and sell that corn on the domestic market for more money. He says Brazil will go from a corn exporter to importing a lot of corn, which means an opportunity is ahead for U.S. farmers.
“They’ve imported about a million tons of corn, and they are importing a lot more, saying we’re gonna be out of corn. There just won’t be any corn for the livestock industry. So, it’s good for U.S. farmers because it keeps our corn exports going stronger than anticipated, because everybody’s expecting a bigger and bigger corn crop out of Brazil, which is usually the case, except for this year, and maybe next year too, we don’t know.”
Forecasts are calling for dry weather and delayed summer rains for the upcoming planting season in South America.