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Growers catch up on safrinha corn sowings in key Brazil state

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Farmers in Brazil’s key safrinha corn-growing state have caught up so significantly on sowings that some are now marking time – although dryness forecast ahead could bring a sharp close to the planting season.

 

Mato Grosso growers last week sowed 7.9% of their safrinha corn – a marked acceleration on the week before, when farmers managed to seed just 1.5%, a knock-on effect of a slow start to the soybean harvest which left land tied up longer than usual with standing crop.

 

Last week, “due to the good progress in the soybean harvest, the sowing of corn in the state began to gain pace,” according to Imea, the Mato Grosso research institute which compiled the data.

 

The speed-up took safrinha corn sowings to 9.8% complete, a 5.5-point lag year on year, but 0.5 points ahead of the five-year average.

 

And plantings progress might have been even faster had not some farmers held back, in the hope of delaying the maturation of their safrinha corn into a drier period.

 

‘Producers choosing to wait’

Imea flagged “reports of producers choosing to wait to plant their corn fields”, given their experience of last year when they “sowed early and had problems with damaged grains”.

 

This came “as a result of the excessive rainfall” last year during harvest time, which typically lasts from June to August in the state.

 

Given this latent planting capacity, assuming “climatic conditions are favourable”, corn sowing “should advance in the coming weeks in most regions”, said Imea, flagging the importance of sowing the crop within the ideal planting window, which ends late next month.

 

Farmers plan on safrinha corn crops being sufficiently developed to negotiate seasonally drier weather later on.

 

Weather outlook

In fact, citing forecasts by TempoCampo, weather conditions look helpful for farmers for now.

 

A drier phase over the next 10 days “could be beneficial” in allowing rapid progress on the soybean harvest, so freeing up land for safrinha crops, of which corn is the key choice in Mato Grosso, but cotton an alternative.

 

Nonetheless, “practically the entire state of Mato Grosso will receive at least 200mm of rain over the next 30 days,” Imea said, terming this amount “sufficient” for early progress of crop development.

 

However, the institute added that weather models “show that the second week of March may bring less rainfall.

 

“Therefore, good progress on field work in the coming days is vital, due to the need to sow in the ideal window,” and avoid dryness taking too significant a toll on crops.

 

‘Good results’

Imea estimated that the Mato Grosso soybean harvest had, after a rain-hampered start, reached 14.4% completion as of Friday, up 8.6 points week on week, and taking it 1.3 points ahead of the five-year average pace.

 

The harvest was achieving “good results” a reflection of benign growing conditions, with ample rains and sunshine.

 

Nonetheless, the harvest was running 11.2 points behind the year-ago pace, and with other states seen as lagging too compared with last season.

 

AgRural on Monday reported the total Brazilian soybean harvest at 4.2% completion as of January 23, up 2.8 points week on week, but will behind the 13% progress figure a year before.

 

Parana slowdown

In Parana, Brazil’s second-ranked soybean, and safrinha corn, growing state, the harvest of the oilseed had reached only 1% as of the start of last week, compared with 15% a year before, according to official state farm department Deral.

 

Safrinha corn seedings – forecast by Deral to reach 2.12m hectares, producing a crop of 12.60m tonnes - had reached 2%, compared with 17% a year before.

 

Imea forecasts a Mato Grosso harvest of 31.62m tonnes, on area of 4.97m hectares.

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