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February 23, 2017

Brazilian Farmers Increase Fertilizer Purchases

As Brazilian farmers prepared to plant their 2016/17 safrinha corn crop, they increased their purchase of fertilizers in December of 2016 and January of 2017 compared to a year earlier. According to the National Fertilizer Distributors Association (Anda), farmers in Brazil took delivery of 2.63 million tons of fertilizers in January of 2017 compared to 2.13 million tons in January of 2016. This was on the heels of a similar pattern in December of 2016 when they took delivery of 2.63 million tons compared to 2.13 million tons in December of 2015.

Fertilizer sales in Brazil start to accelerate in November and December as farmers prepare to plant their safrinha corn. In their February Crop Report, Conab estimated that the safrinha corn acreage would increase 4.7% to 11.03 million hectares (27.2 million acres) and most of the recently purchased fertilizers would be used for safrinha corn production. Conab estimates that there will be a total of 16.5 million hectares of safrinha crops in Brazil including cotton, dry beans, sunflowers, popcorn, grain sorghum, etc. Some of the fertilizers would also be used for sugarcane production as well as the next soybean crop.

Most of the fertilizers used in Brazil are imported and Brazil imported 2.35 million tons of fertilizers in January of 2017, which is about equal to December, but more than last year. In addition to an increase in corn planting, more imported fertilizers were needed in January due to an explosion at the company Vale Fertilizantes in Cubatao, Sao Paulo that disrupted nitrogen production.

Additionally, fertilizer purchases are up this year compared to last year also due to the fact that many Brazilian farmers had a very disappointing soybean crop last year. At the time they needed to purchase fertilizers for their 2015/16 safrinha crops, many of the soybean fields were withering under very hot and dry conditions. Fearful that their soybeans would be impacted by the adverse conditions, many farmers decided to scale back on their fertilizer purchases in order to save money.

The main port of entry for the fertilizers into Brazil in January was the Port of Paranagua with 20% of the imports, followed by the Port of Santos with 18% and the Port of Rio Grande with 17%.