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May 4, 2012

Safrinha Corn Crop in Brazil on Pace to Become Main Crop

Year after year, Brazilian farmers continue to increase their safrinha corn acreage while at the same time they continue to reduce their full-season corn acreage. The word safrinha in Portuguese means "little harvest" and the name was certainly appropriate in years past, but the safrinha corn crop is now nearly as large as the full-season corn crop in Brazil.

In 2005, Brazil harvested 7.0 million tons of safrinha corn compared to 27 million tons of full-season corn. Today, the safrinha acreage is nearly the same as the full-season acreage and Conab is estimating that the 2011/12 safrinha corn crop will be 25.8 million tons compared to 35.8 for the full-season corn crop. The safrinha production is up 20% compared to the 21.4 million tons produced last year while the full-season production is very similar to last year.

The increase in Mato Grosso safrinha acreage alone is very impressive. Farmers in the state planted 2.4- 2.5 million hectares, which is approximately 38% more than last year. Total safrinha production in the state could surpass 11 million tons or over 50% more than last year. According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea), approximately 70% of the anticipated safrinha corn production in the state has already been sold compared to 32% sold last year at this time.

The reasons for the increase in safrinha production include: strong corn prices due to tight world supplies, a weakening Brazilian currency which increases prices for Brazilian farmers when they sell their crops, an ever increasing planting of early-maturing soybeans (90 to 95 day maturity) which allows more time to plant a second crop of corn, and seed companies developing corn hybrids suited for safrinha planting.

Mato Grosso is the largest producer of safrinha corn followed by Parana, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Goias and those three states are expected to produce 6.7 million tons, 3.9 million, and 3.1 million respectively.