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Cotton, corn, soybean harvest hopes upgraded in key Brazilian state


Imea raised hopes for corn and cotton output in Brazil’s top producing state, easing concerns over a setback from a slow harvest of soybeans – for which yield results prompted a production upgrade too.


Imea, the Mato Grosso research institute, lifted its forecast for the state’s corn output in 2019-20 by 820,000 tonnes to 32.44m tonnes – taking the estimate above last season’s record 32.26m-tonne crop.


The upgrade reflected an increased estimate for sowings, now seen at an all-time high of 5.10m hectares, up more than 240,000 hectares year on year, encouraged by elevated prices, after a strong 2019 export campaign, which has left some Brazilian livestock feeders reliant on imported supplies.


The boost to corn prices in Mato Grosso, in centre west Brazil, from “heated domestic and external demand” had offered farmers opportunities to hedge 2019-20 production at “attractive values”, Imea said.


It estimated that growers had already sold 56.9% of their next corn harvest forward – a figure up 15.3 points from last season’s comparator.


Yield upgrade

For cotton, Imea raised its 2019-20 production forecast by 54,000 tonnes to 1.93m tonnes, although this remains narrowly behind last season’s 1.95m-tonne result.


For the fibre, the upgrade reflected an increase to the yield estimate, although to a level which was marginally behind that last season.


The revision reflected expectations “of regular rainfall in most parts of Mato Grosso”, Imea said, in a forecast which contrasts with setbacks to cotton prospects in some other parts of Brazil.


Separately, farm operator BrasilAgro revealed that its cotton harvest, at 6,934 tonnes, would fall 14.9% short of its initial expectations “as climate conditions in Bahia” in northern Brazil “were unfavourable during the crop growth cycle of the harvest”.


Sowings acceleration

The crop upgrades contrast with earlier concerns that a slow soybean harvest – a reflection of a delayed seeding campaign and wet early-2020 weather – would undermine prospects for Mato Grosso corn and cotton, both of which are grown in the state in the main as follow-on “safrinha” crops.


For cotton, which has a slightly earlier safrinha planting window than corn, Imea acknowledge that there had been a “delay in sowing cotton compared to the past harvest and the average of the last five years”.


Sowings progress as of the end of January had reached 83.3%, Imea said, up 26.7 points week on week but 7.5 points behind the year-ago pace.


Soybean upgrade

However, the soybean harvest was now 26.7% complete, progressing more than 21 points in two weeks, if still lagging behind last season’s pace.


Results from the harvest so far prompted Imea to raise by to 57.7 60-kilogramme sacks per hectare, from 56.3 sacks, its estimate of the yield, taking the figure above the record set two seasons ago.


The institute highlighted the benefit of “good” levels of sunshine and rains “at important moments” in the growing season.


With the area estimate upgraded too, the institute lifted by 1.0m tonnes to 34.01m tonnes its production forecast, also a record high for the state.

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