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Ongoing drought in Brazil, Argentina threatens crucial crop harvests

By
Courtney Spamer, Accuweather.com
Although not as extreme, parts of northern Argentina, only recorded 30 percent to 65 percent of their normal rainfall during the month of March. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Although not as extreme, parts of northern Argentina, only recorded 30 percent to 65 percent of their normal rainfall during the month of March. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

An unusually dry end to the summer season across parts of South America is expected to impact the harvests of important crops in the region.

"Rainfall averaged below normal across much of southern Brazil, including [the states of] Rio Grande Do Sul, Santa Catarina, for the month of March, and in many instances the entire summer season," said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls.

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Some major cities in these states include Porto Alegre, Santa Maria and Florianopolis, although even Curitiba in Parana had a drier-than-normal month of March.

All of the above cities saw 35 percent or less of their normal rainfall for the month, which has proven significant for growing areas of corn and soybeans.

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Although not as extreme, parts of northern Argentina, which are also contributing producers of these crops, only recorded 30 percent to 65 percent of their normal rainfall during the month of March.

"The resulting drought from the lack of rainfall across these crop-heavy regions, in addition to bouts of heat, have stressed corn and soybean crops and has led to a reduction in crop yields," added Nicholls.

Argus reported in mid-March that Rio Grande do Sul lowered the estimates for their soybean and corn harvest for the second time in less than two weeks. Unlike other regions of Brazil, the geography of the region keeps the state from having a second harvest, like many other states in the country.

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Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina alone account for 30 percent of Brazil's first corn crop and over 16 percent of the country's soybean crop. Reductions in both could cause shortages as well as affect pricing and the economy.

Further complicating how this crop yield could affect the world's economy is the COVID-19 pandemic. Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez announced on Sunday that the mandatory countrywide quarantine would extend into mid-April.

"Going forward, a front will bring rain and thunderstorms to the area on Thursday. However, this is unlikely to bring enough rainfall to ease the drought conditions," said Nicholls.

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AccuWeather meteorologists say drought conditions will continue to build as the next chance for rain is not expected until next week.

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