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December 27, 2011

Hybrid Corn Seed Shortages Could Limit Safrinha Expansion

The reduction of the full-season corn crop in southern Brazil is expected to result in stronger domestic corn prices, which in turn, could stimulate additional safrinha corn acreage, but a shortage of hybrid seed corn could potentially limit the additional acreage of safrinha corn.

Planting of the safrinha corn will start in a couple of weeks, yet many farmers in Mato Grosso still have not received their anticipated seed corn supplies. Purchasing of the seed to plant the safrinha crop started back in July, but seed companies sold some of the seed to satisfy the increased full-season corn acreage that was planted in southern Brazil. The increase in full-season corn acreage far surpassed what was anticipated by the seed companies. That left the seed companies without the needed supply of hybrids to plant all the intended safrinha acreage.

Some farmers who bought and paid for their hybrid seed corn several months ago are now being forced to accept hybrids different than what they had purchased. Some of the corn hybrids that are being sold in Mato Grosso were produced in other parts of Brazil and they have never been previously grown in Mato Grosso and there is a concern how well adapted these hybrids are to the soils, climate, and latitude of the state. Seed company officials feel that no more than 20% of the seed sold in the state will be these switched hybrids and they are confident that they will perform just as well as the hybrids the farmers had originally requested.

One aspect of these seed situation that farmers in the state really don'SEt like is the possibility that farmers may not get their seed until the end of February. The delayed delivery is due to the fact that some of the hybrids are currently being grown in southern Brazil and they will not be harvested until February. This is cutting it very close because the planting window for safrinha corn in central Mato Grosso usually closes by the end of February.

If the farmers cannot get their seeds delivered until the end of February, there is a possibility that heavy rains at that time could delay the soybean harvest and therefore push the corn planting even later, making the production even more risky. That is what happened in February/March of 2011 and as a result, the corn crop ran out of moisture before the grain filling was complete resulting in disappointing yields.