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July 5, 2011

Safrinha Corn in Parana Impacted by Freezing Temperatures

Freezing temperatures occurred earlier last week all across southern Brazil including the municipalities of Toledo, Cascavel, and Campo Mourao in western Parana where approximately 50% of the safrinha corn is produced in the state. The Department of Rural Economics for the state of Parana indicated that it is too early to fully assess the damage caused by the cold temperatures, but they stated that 75% of the safrinha corn in the state was either pollinating or in the grain filling phase and susceptible to damage from freezing temperatures.

Agronomists from cooperatives in western Parana indicated that this was the worst freeze since 2000 and that losses could reach 30% in the hardest hit areas. They feel the later developing corn was severely affected and there will be a lot of poor quality grain with light test weights and low yields. A prolonged period of wet weather (six days and counting) occurred in the state after the freezing temperatures which are expected to make the situation even worse. Unfortunately the forecast is calling for the potential of more frost/freezes during the early part of this week.

In the northern part of the state, the municipalities of Maringa and Londrina, escaped the coldest temperatures, but the temperatures were low enough to cause some damage to the corn. These two municipalities are responsible for 20% of the state's safrinha corn production.

The state of Parana had been expected to produce a record safrinha corn crop of 7.4 million tons, but that is now in doubt and the total production may not even match last year's production of 6.8 million tons. The early harvest of the safrinha corn crop in the state is just now beginning.

The cold temperatures also impacted the safrinha corn production in Mato Grosso do Sul where losses in the range of 10% are expected and in Sao Paulo where losses could be 15%.

This is just the latest problem for the safrinha corn crop and it is coming on the heels of continued problems in Mato Grosso caused by dry weather. While Conab is estimating that the corn yields in Mato Grosso will only be down by 3.6% compared to last year, many farmers in the state have indicated that they expect their corn yields to be down 30%-40%-50%.

As a result of the freezing temperatures in southern Brazil, it will make it even more probable that Conab will lower its estimate of the 2010/11 Brazilian corn in subsequent reports. The frost/freeze occurred after some of their surveys had been completed for their July report, so the frost/freeze damage may not be fully reflected until the August report.

I am going to leave my estimate of the Brazilian corn crop at 53.0 million tons (Conab is 56.7 million) for the time being. If we start to get reports that the frost/freeze damage was worst than what has already been reported, I might lower the estimate another one or two million tons.