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March 7, 2011

Fed Gov. Allows Safrinha Corn to be Planted Past Deadline

The state in Brazil that has probably received the most rainfall since the first of the year is Mato Grosso do Sul. The nearly constant wet conditions have kept the combines out of the fields in spite of the fact that some of the soybeans have been mature for several weeks. An additional concern is that the wet conditions are also keeping the planters out of the field at a time when the safrinha corn should have already been planted.

Over the last several years, the federal government has established what they call agricultural zoning. They have established parameters for each crop in each state that include recommendations for where the crop may be planted and the dates during which it may be planted. The goal of the program is to establish a set of "best practices" for each crop.

In order to qualify for government loans and crop insurance, the Brazilian farmers must conform to these best practices. In the case of safrinha corn production in Mato Grosso do Sul, the planting deadline for the crop is set at February 28th. If a farmer plants after that date, he cannot qualify for government loans or crop insurance, but since the adverse weather prevented farmers from planting their safrinha corn before the deadline, the Minister of Agriculture has pushed back the deadline to March 10th. Agricultural officials in the state have already petitioned the federal government to push it back even more to March 20th. The deadline has similarly been push back for farmers in Mato Grosso, Goias, and Parana who have not yet planted their safrinha corn.

In central Brazil, late planted safrinha corn comes with the risk of dry weather returning before the crop has successfully completed its reproductive cycle. In more southern locations such as Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana, not only is dry weather a risk, but cold weather can also occur. It's not uncommon for frosts to occur in northern Parana during the month of June when the safrinha corn is still in its reproductive phase. When these frosts do occur, the yield of the safrinha corn crop is significantly impacted.