Author Argus

Meteorological models show that the weather phenomenon El Niño will start and reach full force during the second half of 2023, following the heating process of the Pacific Ocean’s waters.

Brazilian farmers are already preparing themselves for its possible impacts on the country’s winter and summer crops.

Join Camila Dias, Argus Brazil Country Manager, and Nathalia Giannetti, reporter for the Argus Brazil Grains and Fertilizer, as they talk about what to expect for this next El Niño cycle and what regions may be the most affected by it. 


CD: Hello, and welcome to Market Talks, a series of podcasts brought to you weekly by Argus about the main events impacting the commodities and energy sectors in Brazil and around the world. My name is Camila Dias, Argus Brazil Country Manager, and in today's episode I will talk to Nathalia Giannetti, a reporter for the Argus Brazil Grains and Fertilizers publication, about the prospects of the El Niño weather phenomenon for the Brazilian crops this 2023. Welcome Nathalia.

NG: Thank you, Camila. It is great to be here.

CD: Nathalia, could you first explain what El Niño is and how is it different from the La Niña weather pattern?

NG: Of course, Camila. El Niño is a weather phenomenon that occurs every two to seven years and lasts around nine months to twelve months. It takes place when Pacific Ocean waters heat up, which can alter atmospheric conditions and rainfall patterns around the globe. It is also important to note that El Niño has the opposite effect of La Niña, which follows the cooling of the Pacific Ocean waters and has just ended in early-fall after three years. El Niño tends to favor the increase rainfall in the areas that suffered with dry weather for the previous three crop cycle and cause droughts where it rained a fair amount before.

CD: Perfect, Nathalia. And when can we expect El Niño?

NG: Right now, El Niño is still in formation. And we can say that we are in a period of climate neutrality, that is, a period of transition between the two phenomena. Some of El Niño’s effects are beginning to be seen now in these first weeks of winter in the southern hemisphere. But some meteorological models indicate that El Niño will indeed begin and reach its peak of influence between late winter and early spring.

CD: Interesting. And in which regions of Brazil exactly will El Niño act more strongly?

NG: So, Camila, El Niño is expected to affect mostly Rio Grande do Sul state, in the country’s south, and the Matopiba region, which includes Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia. In Rio Grande do Sul, experts expect a rise in precipitation volumes, which should contribute to the recovery of the state’s crops that suffered from the effects of three consecutive drought years. But Matopiba is on alert. La Niña has boosted yields in these states since the 2020-21 crop. For instance, in the 2019-20 season, the four states produced a combined 15.4 million tonnes of soybeans, according to national supply company (Conab). In the current 2022-23 cycle, Conab forecast almost 20 million t for Matopiba. It is also possible that El Niño will increase temperatures in the central-western and southeast regions during winter. A less severe winter can shorten the winter crops development cycle, but the heat can also boost the negative impacts of the usually very dry season.

CD: Right, Nathalia. And these El Niño effects that you mentioned earlier are already certain or could this go another way?

NG: So, Camila, it’s still too early to measure the intensity of the phenomenon. Usually, these predictions can only be made when it already started. But the sources heard by Argus point out that the El Niño’s projected intensity increases with each meteorological update. Also, it is important to note that Brazil is a territorially vast country and is therefore under the influence of multiple meteorological phenomena, which can either amplify or weaken El Niño’s effects.

CD: Perfect, Nathalia. Let’s back up a bit. You mentioned that El Niño can help recover Rio Grande do Sul’s crop. How so?

NG: Well, Camila, Rio Grande do Sul went through three consecutive years of drought. The worst was in the 2021-22 season, when the state produced only nine million tonnes of soybeans, despite sowing more than six million hectares. Soil conditions were severely damaged and the state’s water reserves reached critical levels. So, the increase of rainfall caused by El Niño would help to recover the state’s water reserves before the start of the 2023-24 soybean sowing season in October. An intense El Niño could be enough to replenish these reserves. So, farmers in Rio Grande do Sul are welcoming El Niño. Their only concern is related to potential problems for the progress of the wheat harvest and delays in the planting calendar for summer crops, as the increase in rain volumes can hinder the progress of field works.

CD: Very interesting, Nathalia. And thanks for joining us. This and other episodes of our podcast are available on the Argus website at Visit the page to follow the events that affect global commodity markets and understand their developments in Brazil and in Latin America. We'll be back soon with another edition of “Market Talks.” See you soon!