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March 18, 2014

Corn Acreage Grew Faster than Soy in Mato Grosso Last 6 Years

One of the most significant trends in Brazilian agriculture in recent years has been the tremendous increase in safrinha corn production especially in the state of Mato Grosso. Very strong corn prices over the last few years were a tremendous incentive for farmers in Brazil to plant a second crop of corn after the first crop of soybeans were harvested.

Virtually all the corn grown in Mato Grosso is safrinha production and over the last six growing season, corn acreage in Mato Grosso has increased 93% while soybean acreage has increased 33% making Mato Grosso the largest corn and soybean producing state in Brazil. Over those six years, an average of 36% of the soybean acres in the state were followed by a second crop of corn. The least amount was 30% in 2008/09 and the most was 46% in 2012/13.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) estimates that this growing season there were 8.29 million hectares of soybeans planted in the state and that 39% or 3.24 million will be followed by a second crop of corn. Wet weather during February and early March delayed the soybean harvest thus pushing the corn planting past the ideal planting window which closed about February 25th. Therefore, it is possible that not all the intended safrinha corn acres were indeed planted.

Yields of the safrinha corn in the state vary widely depending on the length of the rainy season. During the last two growing seasons when the rainy season was extended, the safrinha corn in the state averaged 103 and 102 sacks per hectare (6,180 and 6,120 kg/ha or 95.1 and 94.2 bu/ac). An early end to the rainy season in 2009/10 resulted in a statewide yield of 66.8 sacks per hectare (4,008 kg/ha or 61.7 bu/ac). In central Mato Grosso the rains usually end by late April or early May.

Prices paid for the corn in the state have also varied widely. In September of 2012, domestic corn prices in the state were above R$ 20 per sack, but by August of 2013, they had fallen to below R$ 10 per sack. The cost of producing safrinha corn in the state ranges from R$ 12 to R$ 16 per sack.