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January 27, 2016

Safrinha Cotton Planting Slow in Mato Grosso

As the early maturing soybeans are harvested in Mato Grosso, many farmers are expected to plant a second crop of cotton or corn, but the start of the safrinha planting for both crops has been delayed by recent wet weather.

The first safrinha crop planted in the state is cotton because the ideal planting window for safrinha cotton usually closes by the end of January. Mato Grosso is the leading cotton producing state in Brazil and approximately 70% of the cotton in the state is safrinha production. The other 30% of the crop is full-season cotton which farmers in the state are allowed to start planting on December 1st.

Safrinha corn can be planted later in the state and the ideal planting window for safrinha corn generally closes about the 20th of February, although some farmers continue to plant corn until about the 10th of March. If farmers in the state plant either cotton or corn past the recommended time, the crops can run out of moisture before they reach maturity. The dry season in central Brazil usually runs from May to September during which there is very little chance of rain while the temperatures remain quite hot, generally in the 80's and 90's. Therefore, to achieve optimum yields, farmers need to plant their safrinha crops as early as possible.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) reported that as of late last week, 39% of the cotton crop in the state had been planted. Imea estimates that the state will plant 576,300 hectares of cotton in 2015/16, so approximately 221,800 hectares of cotton have been planted. The current planting pace is slower than last year, which itself was slow as well. There are currently 96,000 less hectares of cotton planted in the state as compared to January 2015. Heavy rains during early January slowed the soybean harvest and thus the cotton planting, but the rainfall this week is expected to be less than the last couple of weeks which should result in a pickup of the cotton planting pace.

By far the biggest safrinha crop in Mato Grosso is corn and farmers in the state have only planted approximately 1.3% of their intended safrinha corn crop compared to 3.1% a year earlier. The safrinha corn planting pace is also expected to accelerate this week with somewhat dryer weather.