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December 21, 2010

Safrinha Corn Acreage in Mato Grosso Could Decline 10% to 35%

The delayed arrival of the summer rains in Brazil delayed the soybean planting in Mato Grosso which is also going to delay the start of the soybean harvest in Mato Grosso as well. A late soybean harvest in the state is also going to delay the planting of the safrinha corn crop in Mato Grosso as well. This delay could persuade farmers in the state to plant other more drought tolerant crops such as sorghum, millet, or sunflowers and less corn. Estimates are that the 2010/11 safrinha corn acreage in Mato Grosso could decline by 10% to 35%.

Safrinha corn in Brazil is planted primarily in the states of Mato Grosso and Parana. During the 2009/10 growing season, the farmers in Mato Grosso planted 1.9 million hectares of safrinha corn and in Parana, they planted 1.35 million hectares. These two states combined accounted for 62% of the safrinha corn acreage in Brazil.

The potential problem for the 2010/11 safrinha corn crop will be primarily in the state of Mato Grosso because that is where the soybean planting was delayed the most. The planting window for safrinha corn in the state is between early January and late February. If the corn is planted past the end of February, there is a risk that the crop could run out of water before it finishes filling the grain.

The weather is also going to influence the safrinha corn acreage in Mato Grosso. It can be very rainy in Mato Grosso in late January and early February and if heavy rains disrupt the soybean harvest, it could make planting the safrinha corn in a timely manner even more difficult. If February turns out to be wetter than normal, then the declines in safrinha corn acreage in the state will probably be on the upper end of the range. If the soybean harvest progresses without any significant rain delays, then the declines in the safrinha corn acreage will probably be at the lower end of the range.

The soybean planting in Parana progressed at a normal pace this year, so baring any significant rain delays with the soybean harvest, the safrinha corn crop in the state should be planted within the appropriate planting window. In fact, if given good weather, the farmers in Parana might even increase their safrinha corn acreage to take advantage of high corn prices.