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June 17, 2011

Harvest of the Safrinha Corn and Cotton Crops to Begin in Brazil

Farmers in the center-west region of Brazil, which includes the states of Mato Grosso, Goias, and Mato Grosso do Sul, are starting to harvest their safrinha corn crop and by the end of June, they will also start to harvest their 2010/11 cotton crop as well.

An early start to the dry season is expected to result in disappointing corn yields especially for the corn that was planted after February 20th when the ideal planting window had closed. Farmers were forced to plant their corn much later than normal because the soybeans were planted later than normal and the soybean harvest was also delayed by heavy rains.

In the municipality of Sorriso, which is located in north-central Mato Grosso, the later planted corn is expected to have yield losses of 20% to 30% compared to 2010, which was also a dry year. According to the director of a local farm organization, corn yields in the municipality are expected to be in the range of 4,800 kg/ha (74 bu/ac) compared to 6,900 kg/ha in 2010 (106 bu/ac).

In their latest weekly survey, the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) estimated the statewide corn yield at 3,800 kg/ha (59 bu/ac) compared to 4,300 kg/ha last year (66 bu/ac).

The corn yields may end up being disappointing, but the strong corn prices are going to compensate for the lower production. In Sorriso for example, recent corn prices have been as high as R$ 18 per sack of 60 kilograms compared to as low as R$ 10 per sack in 2010.

Farmers in Brazil are also gearing up to harvest a much increased cotton crop. Record high cotton prices encouraged farmers in Brazil to increase their cotton acreage to 1.39 million hectares, which was an increase of 66% compared to last year. The center-west region of Brazil registered the greatest increase in acreage and is responsible for 64% of the total cotton acreage planted in Brazil. The three center-west states of Mato Grosso, Goias, and Mato Grosso do Sul increased their cotton acreage by 67%, 85%, and 61% respectively. The increased acreage came primarily from full season cotton planted in December and also from safrinha cotton that was planted in January.

The cotton crop has also been affected by the dry weather especially the safrinha cotton, but the total cotton production in Brazil will far surpass last year's crop due to the increased acreage. The harvest of both the full season and the safrinha cotton will start at the end of June and run through the month of July.