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The elongation of the soybean cycle and the risks for the corn safrinha

Since the beginning, the 2020/2021 season has been challenging in Brazil. At the time of soybean sowing, low precipitation delayed the planting, consequently, the harvest started later, which may reflect on the potential yield of the corn safrinha (winter season), since the ideal window to planting corn for the second crop will be lower.

If safrinha corn is sown outside the ideal window, it will be more exposed to less rain since the wet season in Brazil ends in March. With this, even if there is regular rainfall (within the historical average) in the following months, this may not be enough to guarantee a good yield potential of corn.

Crops sown after the end of February will be more susceptible to drought. In addition, they will also be exposed to shorter days (less solar radiation) and more possibilities of frosts at the end of the cycle, which could damage the crops and reduce the yield.

Therefore, the delay in the soybean cycle will expose the safrinha corn to several risks that can decrease the productive potential.

According to Conab, until February 5, about 3.6% of the total soybean area had been harvested, about fourteen percentage points below in the annual comparison. In Mato Grosso, the harvest had reached 8.9% of the state area, against 50.0% in relation to the same period in 2020.

In Mato Grosso, the cumulative precipitation at the end of 2020, period of soybean planting, was the lowest since at least 1991, considering the beginning of September 1 and the end of December 1 (planting season).

Image 1. Cumulative precipitation from September 1 to December 1 in Mato Grosso (source: Geosys; Agriquest).

The delay in planting is visible in the analysis of the vegetation indices, where there is clearly an elongation of the cycle.

Image 2. Evolution of the vegetation indices in Mato Grosso from September 1 to March 31 (source: Geosys; Agriquest).

The lengthening of the cycle is positive for soybean crops, however, it shows a delay in the cycle and, consequently, the ideal window for sowing safrinha corn will be smaller, which can negatively impact the potential yield of corn.

The planting of safrinha corn, until 5/2, had reached 9.0% (Conab). At the same time of the previous year, sowing had reached 43.9% in Mato Grosso.

In the 2010/2011 season, there was also a delay in planting the second crop, however, due to low rainfall at the beginning of planting of first crop, in September (the rains normalized in November) and the excessive rainfall in January (delay of the harvest of the first crop).

Image 3. Cumulative precipitation in Mato Grosso from September 1 to December 1 in 2020 and 2010 (left) and in January 2021 and 2011 (right) (source: Geosys; Agriquest).

In the 2010/2011 season, the yield was -17% compared to the trend year.

This scenario (of lengthening the cycle, delay in soybean harvest and a smaller window for planting safrinha corn) is also observed in other states, such as Parana, Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul.

Therefore, the soybean cycle has not yet ended, but it already raises many doubts regarding the production of corn production in Brazil.

With the sowing carried out outside the ideal window, the safrinha corn will be exposed to less rain, shorter days and possibly frosts (mainly in the south of the country), factors that can limit the yield potential.

To find out more about climatic conditions and production estimates in Brazil and in other countries in the world, please contact us and have access to information with quality and advance.

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