Heavy rains not seen slowing Brazilian winter corn

There might be a small acreage drop, but the country is expected to continue to be a leading exporter

Reuters – Forecasts of heavy rainfall during Brazil’s soy-harvesting season are unlikely to discourage farmers from planting winter corn, according to Agroconsult, as it kicked off an annual crop tour Jan. 16 in the top grain-producing state of Mato Grosso.

Once an afterthought, winter or second corn is planted after soybeans are harvested in states like Mato Grosso, which is now starting to harvest oilseeds planted last September.

“Unless rains really disrupt soy-harvesting work, conditions remain favourable for farmers to plant winter corn after soybeans,” said Fábio Meneghin, an analyst with Agroconsult, the agribusiness consultancy.

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One factor driving winter corn planting is domestic prices, which rebounded from last July and closed the gap with soy. The recovery, he said, gives farmers more bargaining power in bartering with suppliers because their produce is worth more as they trade corn for fertilizers and other inputs needed for planting.

Also, seeds providers estimate that over the next three weeks farmers will have bought all of the seeds for planting winter corn in the states of Mato Grosso, Paraná, Goiás and Mato Grosso do Sul, indicating they are keen on planting the cereal, Meneghin said.

The analyst’s remarks underpin expectations that Brazil will have another bumper second-corn harvest, remaining a leading competitor with the United States in export markets, especially in the second half of the year.

Second corn in the 2017-18 season will account for about three-quarters of Brazil’s production, according to government data, which pegged total output at over 92 million tonnes in 2018.

Weather may have an impact on the quality of Brazil’s winter corn, Meneghin said, noting the ideal window to plant second corn closes around Feb. 25 in Mato Grosso.

Because of delays in beginning soy planting in some areas and expected rains during harvesting work, he anticipates a bigger percentage of the winter corn crop planted outside the ideal period.

Before the crop tour, Agroconsult forecast a four per cent drop in winter corn output from last season, to 65.6 million tonnes. Brazil’s total corn production will shrink an expected seven per cent mainly due to a fall in summer corn planting.

Still, Agroconsult estimated a two per cent rise of Mato Grosso’s winter corn area, and no growth in Goiás, Paraná and Mato Grosso do Sul. In Brazil, there will be marginal growth in the area planted to 12.3 million hectares, pushed by growth in Mato Grosso.

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