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August 29, 2014

Farmers in Northern Parana switching Full-season Corn to Soybeans

As Brazilian farmers prepare to start planting their 2014/15 crops, it is becoming more apparent every day that farmers all across Brazil will be increasing their acreage of soybeans and decreasing their acreage of full-season corn. Farmers prefer to plant more of their first crop to soybeans and then to plant their corn as a second crop following the soybeans.

Safrinha corn production in Brazil has been improving in recent years and in fact, during the 2013/14 growing season, approximately 60% of Brazil's corn was safrinha production and only 40% was full-season production. Safrinha corn yields have been improving as well and last year the average yield of the safrinha corn in Brazil (approximately 79 bu/ac) was higher than the full-season corn yields (approximately 73 bu/ac). Full-season corn yields were disappointing last year due to a severe drought and high temperatures during December and January in Sao Paulo and Parana.

What is happening in northern Parana is symbolic of much of Brazil. Cooperatives in northern Parana report that 90% of the inputs purchased by their members including seed, fertilizers, and chemicals are for the production of soybeans and only 10% is for corn production. In the region around the city of Maringa in northern Parana, the State Secretary of Agriculture is estimating that soybean production may increase 10% to 20% in 2014/15 while full-season corn production may decline as much as 50%.

Soybeans are a more profitable crop in the region and farmers are investing in the newest seed technology hoping for a good growing season and record soybean yields. The average soybean yields in the region is expected to be in the range of 3,200 to 3,500 kg/ha or 46.4 to 50.7 bu/ac, which if achieved, would be a new record high yield.

The cooperatives have indicated that more than half of the soybeans in the region will be early maturing soybeans that will be harvested at the end of January or early February allowing enough time for a second crop of corn. The safrinha corn would then be harvested in July which should be early enough to avoid losses from potentially freezing temperatures.