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November 13, 2012

Safrinha Corn Crop in Mato Grosso Becoming Safrona Corn Crop

The second crop of corn in Mato Grosso is known as the safrinha corn crop, which in Portuguese means the "little harvest". Well, it's not so little any more so some people are now calling the second crop of corn in the state the safrona corn crop, which means the "big harvest". The word safra in Portuguese means "harvest" and if you put ..inha at the end of a word, it means little. Conversely, if you put ..ona at the end of a word it means big. I will continue to use the word safrinha when referring to the second crop of corn in Brazil, but don't be surprised if you start seeing the second crop of corn in Mato Grosso being referred to as the safrona corn crop.

Farmers in Mato Grosso continue to devote more of their acreage to an expanding safrinha corn crop. According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea), 37% of the 2012/13 soybean acreage in Mato Grosso will be followed by a second crop of corn. This compares to five years ago (the 2008/09 growing season) when corn was planted on 29% of the soybean acreage in the state. So the safrinha corn acreage in the state continues to increase as the soybean acreage increases and the percentage of the soybeans followed by corn also increases.

Imea estimates that farmers in the state will plant 2.91 million hectares of safrinha corn, or 37% of the 7.89 million hectares of soybeans in the state. In 2011/12, Mato Grosso planted 2.64 million hectares of safrinha corn. The greatest concentration of safrinha corn is in the north-central region of the state where 50% of the soybeans are followed by a second crop of corn. In other regions of the state, the percentage of the soybean crop that is followed by a second crop of corn varies from 15% to 20%.

In the future, 100% of the soybeans will not be followed by a second crop of corn because farmers need to spread out the maturity of their soybean crop. In order to plant a second crop of corn, the soybeans must be early maturing varieties that can be harvested basically during the month of January. The problem is that January is the peak of the rainy season and harvesting soybeans at that time can be difficult. If a farmer planted all early maturing soybeans, then his entire harvest may be at risk if there is an extended period of rainfall when he is trying to harvest the soybeans. A typical regime in Mato Grosso might be to plant 40% early maturing varieties, 30% medium maturity, and 30% late maturity.

The safrinha corn crop in Mato Grosso will represent approximately 97% of the total corn crop in the state in 2012/13. Planting a second crop of corn not only helps to increase farmer incomes, it also helps to diminish potential logistical problems as well. If farmers in the state planted a big soybean crop and corn crop at the same time, there would not be enough storage space to accommodate both crops. By offsetting the corn harvest by 3-4 months after the soybeans are harvested, a significant portion of the soybeans in the state will have already been shipped out of the state by the time the corn harvest begins in June, thus freeing up some storage space for the corn.

The ideal planting window for the safrinha corn crop in the state is January through about the third week of February. If the corn is planted after that date, there is an increased risk that the crop could run into dry weather before it completes the grain filling period.