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January 29, 2013

Wet Weather Slows Early Safrinha Corn Planting in Mato Grosso

The longer it stays wet in Mato Grosso, the slower the soybeans will be harvested and thus the more delayed the planting of the safrinha corn crop. The safrinha corn crop in Mato Grosso is estimated to be about 3% planted, which is a slightly slower start than last year. It had been anticipated that the safrinha corn acreage in the state would increase due to an increase in soybean acreage and a decrease in safrinha cotton acreage. There is now some doubt about how large of an increase there may be in the safrinha corn acreage.

Corn production in Brazil has fundamentally changed over the last decade. It used to be that safrinha corn production was a novelty crop used to supplement the full-season corn crop in Brazil. Today, it's just the opposite. As farmers continue to reduce their full-season corn acreage in favor of more soybeans, and it's the safrinha corn crop that is now the major corn crop in Brazil.

safrinha corn production is highly dependent on when the rainy season ends in central Brazil. In Mato Grosso, the rains usually end in late April or early May and once the rainy season ends, it will not rain again until sometime in September. The intervening period is the dry season during which it is bright and sunny with temperatures in the 80s or 90s. If irrigation is available, crops could be grown year round in central Brazil.

Most of the corn in Mato Grosso is grown between 11 and 17 degrees south of the equator. The equivalent latitude north of the equator would be from about Costa Rica to Guatemala. This dry period is sometimes erroneously called winter and the safrinha corn crop is called the winter corn crop, it's not winter; it's just the dry season.

The latest assessment from Somar Meteorologia is that the rainy season should start winding down by mid-April, which is earlier than normal. If the rains end by mid-April, that would be two and a half months earlier than last year when it continued raining until the end of June.

If the planting of the safrinha corn is delayed and the rainy season ends earlier than normal, then that is not a good combination for safrinha corn yields in central Brazil. Instead of the statewide yield of 104 sacks per hectare achieved last year (6,240 kg/ha or 96 bu/ac), the statewide yield may be only half that amount. Therefore, you really can'it get a handle on the safrinha corn crop until you know when the rainy season will end.