Brazil's second corn crop threatened by dry April in top grains state


By Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO, April 27 (Reuters) - Brazil's top grain-producing state is facing its driest April in 17 years, threatening a key second corn crop in the agricultural powerhouse, weather service EarthDaily Agro predicts.

Accumulated April rainfall in Mato Grosso state is likely to total 30 millimeters (1.18 inches), 70% below the average for the last decade, EarthDaily Agro, which monitors agricultural areas via satellite images, estimates.

"Corn producers are increasingly concerned with the drought that has lasted more than a month in several municipalities," an EarthDaily Agro report seen by Reuters says.

Mato Grosso is expected to produce around 40 million tonnes in its second corn crop, nearly half Brazil's total output of 88.5 million tonnes, the government's food supply and statistics agency Conab estimates.

A setback for Brazil's corn crop, expected to total a record of more than 115 million tonnes this year including the first planting, could hurt exports and domestic supplies, driving up prices that are already at historically high levels.

"The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) has deteriorated slightly in recent days (in Mato Grosso), showing the first effects of water stress. Soil moisture is low and expected to drop even further in the short term, curtailing the second crop's potential," EarthDaily Agro said in its report.

It did not provide more detailed analysis on the impact of the drought, with neighboring grain-producing state Goias expected to have only 12.5 millimeters of accumulated rainfall in April, compared with an 80 millimeter average.

In 2016, when corn areas were hit by drought, precipitation volumes reached 6.7 millimeters, EarthDaily Agro said.

Reuters reported last week that farmers in the region were worried about a dry forecast for the second half of April after Brazil's first corn crop was hit by a lack of rain.

(Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Brad Haynes and Alexander Smith)

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