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January 9, 2014

Brazilian Corn Acreage Losing out to Higher Priced Soybeans

Farmers all across Brazil opted for more soybeans and less full-season corn for the 2013/14 growing season. A case in point is the state of Parana where farmers reduced their full-season corn acreage to the lowest level since records have been kept. The Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Parana estimates that the full-season corn acreage in 2013/14 fell to 669,000 hectares which is a decline of 24% compared to the 876,000 hectares planted in 2012/13.

Since full-season corn and soybeans compete for the same acreage in the state the choice was simple, the farmers opted for the much better prices being offered for soybeans. The trend has been similar across other corn producing states as well, but not quite as dramatic as in Parana. In the other full-season corn producing states, the full-season corn acreage is expected to decline 15-20%.

Some farmers are also substituting soybeans as a second crop instead of corn. Parana is the second leading safrinha corn producing state after Mato Grosso and the safrinha corn acreage in the state is expected to decline 9% to 1.95 million hectares compared to the 2.15 million hectares planted in 2012/13. Looking at it another way, in 2012/13 the safrinha corn acreage in the state was 2.4 times larger than the full-season corn acreage. In 2013/14 the safrinha corn acreage is expected to be 2.9 times larger than the full-season corn acreage.

Even though the safrinha corn acreage is expected to decline in the state, the Secretary of Agriculture is estimating that the safrinha corn production will be the same as last year at 10.2 million tons, but that will depend on the weather of course. Last year's safrinha corn yields were negatively impacted by freezing temperatures that hit before all the corn was mature.

Mato Grosso is the largest safrinha corn producing state in Brazil and the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics expects the safrinha corn acreage to decline 12% and the production to decline 27% due to lower yields than the record yields recorded last growing season.