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July 1, 2011

Safrinha Corn Impacted by Cold Temperatures in Southern Brazil

Frosts and freezes were widespread across much of southern Brazil earlier this week and some of the cold air even made it as far north as southern Mato Grosso do Sul. Below freezing temperatures were recorded on two nights earlier this week in various cities across the southern region of the state.

In the municipality of Dourados for example, which is located in southern Mato Grosso do Sul, 94,000 hectares of safrinha corn were planted this year, but 45,000 hectares were planted after the normal planting window had closed. The planting was delayed mainly due to heavy rains at the time of the soybean harvest. The late planted corn is still filling grain and susceptible to losses due to the cold temperatures. The late planted corn is particularly at risk because the crop had already suffered through a month and a half of dry weather during May and early June. Losses due to the dry weather had been estimated at 10% even before the recent cold snap.

Temperatures were even colder further south in Parana where an estimated 1.6 million hectares of safrinha corn had been planted. The eventual damage caused by the cold weather won't be entirely known for several more days and maybe not even until the corn is harvested. A typical result of the growing season being cut short by freezing temperatures is the production of light chaffy kernels with low test weights and lower yields.

The largest safrinha corn producing state is Mato Grosso and the corn in that state has suffered from dry weather since early April. The safrinha corn in Mato Grosso was not impacted by the cold temperatures, but the crop in the state had already been negatively impacted from an early onset of the dry season. Conab is estimating that the statewide corn yield in Mato Grosso will only be down 3.6% compared to 2010, but many farmers in the state are estimating their losses at 30%-40%-50% compared to last year.

Given all the problems that have afflicted the safrinha corn crop in Brazil, it is expected that Conab will lower its Brazilian corn estimate in future reports.