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January 15, 2019

Brazilian Farmers start Safrinha Corn Planting, Weather Worries

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The 2018/19 Brazilian corn estimate was left unchanged this week at 93.0 million tons, but I still have a lower bias going forward. I think the Brazilian corn crop will end up below 93.0 million tons, but we need to wait a little longer to see how the growing season develops for the safrinha corn crop.

I am currently estimating the 2018/19 Brazilian full-season corn crop at 25.0 million tons and the safrinha corn crop at 68.0 million tons for a total corn crop of 93.0 million tons. Conab made a slight upward adjustment in their last report when they increased their estimate by 0.09 million tons to 91.1 million. The increase came from a slightly more favorable yield for the full-season corn.

The two big states for full-season corn production are Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul. In Rio Grande do Sul, the corn is 23% in vegetative development, 53% pollinating and filling grain, 18% mature, and 6% harvested. The corn crop has generally benefited from recent rains except for areas in the southern part of the state that were recently inundated by heavy rains.

The full-season corn in Minas Gerais is not as advanced as in Rio Grande do Sul. The corn in Minas Gerais is generally starting to pollinate and fill grain. The recent weather in the state has generally been hot and dry, which would certainly be less than ideal for the corn.

AgRural reported that 1.5% of Brazil's safrinha corn has been planted compared to 0% last year and 0.2% for the 5-year average. The safrinha corn in Parana is 4.4% planted and the safrinha corn in Mato Grosso is 1.4% planted.

I have a lower bias going forward for the Brazilian corn production because I am worried about potential weather problems impacting the safrinha corn crop. Thus far, this has certainly not been a typical summer rainy season in Brazil. It might improve going forward, I don't know, but the rainfall amounts generally start to decline as you move into February. If the current weather pattern persists, the soil moisture levels could be dryer than normal as the safrinha corn develops. The worst case scenario would be a dryer than normal second half of the rainy season and then an early end to the summer rains all together.

The safrinha corn is going to be planted earlier than normal this year due to the early start to the soybean harvest. The most critical time for the safrinha corn will be from mid-March to mid-May when the corn will be pollinating and filling grain. Generally the summer rainy season ends in late April or early May. The fate of the safrinha corn is very important because that is the source of virtually all of Brazil's corn exports and Brazil is the second largest corn exporter after the United States.