March 2021 South America Production Report

  • As the South American season continues, Indigo has updated its forecasts for corn and soybeans in Brazil and Argentina.
  • In Argentina, corn and soybeans forecasts are now at 6.7 metric tons per hectare (mt/ha) and 2.8 mt/ha, increasing 0.1 mt/ha since last month
  • In Brazil, the corn and soybean forecast both also increased 0.1 mt/ha since last month, up to 5.9 mt/ha and 3.4 mt/ha.

March 11, 2021. Since last month, Indigo’s forecasts for both Argentine and Brazilian crops have improved slightly as the La Niña weather pattern continues to bring hot and dry conditions to Argentina and wetter conditions to Brazil. Of note, soybean harvest is well behind average in Brazil, at 38% currently versus 53% last year, due primarily to a torrent of rainfall.

“Wet weather such as this usually occurs in January when fewer soybeans are mature and ready for harvest,” says Michael Cordonnier, an agricultural consultant providing up-to-date information about soybean and corn production in both North and South America. “The nearly constant wet weather during February hit at a very inopportune time when a lot of soybeans were mature and ready for harvest. As bad as this is for the soybeans, it could end up being worse for the safrinha corn.”

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Indigo’s yield projection for corn is 10% below the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimate in Argentina and 5% above CONAB’s estimate for Brazil. For soybeans, Indigo’s yield projection for soybeans is 5% above the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimate for Argentina and 3% below CONAB for Brazil. 

Our total estimates for corn production in South America is 2 million metric tons (MMT), higher than  CONAB and the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Meanwhile, our overall soybean production estimate is 2MMT lower than local estimates, driven by our prediction of a substantially smaller crop in Brazil. Buenos Aires Grain Exchange cut their production forecasts today by 1 million tons in corn and 2 million tons in soybeans due to lower yields. CONAB’s update today increased corn production by 2.6 million tons and soybeans by 1.3 million tons – primarily due to increases in area planted. 

After such a delayed start to the growing season in October, farmers in Brazil are still forecasted to see slightly above average yields while Argentina is finding themselves behind the 5-year average for crop health, in some cases drastically. Argentine corn yields are especially behind at 17% below trend, while soybeans – the country’s far larger export – is 6% below trend. At current forecasts, this would bring the second worst yields in the past five years for Argentine corn and beans.

Pockets of optimism and resilience in Brazil include Carlos Augustin, a second-generation farmer who manages corn, soybeans, and cotton on 20,000 hectares of Mato Grosso land. After dry weather delayed planting by 15 days, which led to a “25% decrease in productivity” for Augustin’s soybeans, adequate rainfall through the middle of the season allowed the crop to rebound to now only 5% behind expectations, he says. Both his cotton and corn health, meanwhile, are looking identical to past years.


Carlos Augustin

Looking ahead to next month, we will be in the heart of the safrinha season and have updated production numbers for South America this year.

Interested in learning more? Watch the webinar below, featuring a deep dive on South American production from analysts and scientists on our GeoInnovation team.


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