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Brazil May Overtake US as World's Top Corn Exporter This Year

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Brazil could dethrone the US as the world’s No. 1 corn exporter in 2023. Behind that projection is forecasted record corn production in Brazil, based on Gro’s model. In addition, China is increasingly looking to the South American country to satisfy its growing appetite for corn imports. 

This turnabout in corn export dominance, in addition to shifting global trade flows, could pressure US corn prices after the US harvest wraps up in late October, a time when corn prices typically are already around their lowest levels.  

Brazil exported more corn than the US only once before, during the US drought year of 2012/13. But this time around is different because Brazil’s rise is due to a hefty corn acreage expansion and the opening of its market to China, which Gro wrote about here

Brazil’s corn exports have already jumped sevenfold in the past 15 years, to nearly 50 million tonnes last year. With the addition of increased demand from China, Brazil’s exports look set to expand further. 

China’s corn imports have soared more than twentyfold since 2010, driven largely by its skyrocketing livestock feed needs. In February, China’s corn imports rose 38% from the previous month and were up 60% from a year earlier, mainly from the US, Ukraine, and Brazil, as seen in this Gro display

Brazil’s corn production also has grown, fueled by increased acreage planted to corn — up 72% in the past 20 years. While crop yields also have risen, there is much room for improvement — Brazil’s corn yields are still only about half those in the US, as seen in this Gro display

Brazil’s newly planted second corn crop, or safrinha, which represents more than 70% of total corn production, is harvested from June through August. While it is early in the season, Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture shows favorable growing conditions. 

The recent departure of the La Niña global climate pattern could help ensure normal weather for Brazil’s corn crop, whose outlook depends on when the rainy season ends — typically this occurs in early May, as this Gro display shows. Heavy rains earlier this year delayed some corn planting and could hurt yields in some areas. 

Gro’s Brazil Corn Yield Forecast Model went live in mid-January and is currently updating in-season forecasts on a daily basis down to the district level. Gro users can access the machine-learning model, as well as our Brazil corn supply and demand balance sheet, using the Gro Brazil Corn Monitor

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