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Brazil’s Soybean Woes Increase Risks for Upcoming Corn Crop

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As forecasts decline for Brazil’s soybean crop, concerns are mounting for the country’s second corn crop, or safrinha, which is planted after the soybean harvest and accounts for the bulk of Brazil’s corn production. 

A delay in corn planting, or an early start to Brazil’s dry season, increases the chances that dry weather could damage crop yields. In addition, Brazilian farmers tend to plant less corn when they miss the ideal planting window, which could also reduce fertilizer demand. 

Brazil’s corn production is currently forecast to fall short of last year’s record output. But any further production shortfall would have ramifications for corn prices worldwide, which could in turn influence how much corn US farmers plant for the 2024/25 season. 

Brazil is the world’s No. 1 corn exporter and has sharply ramped up shipments to China since Chinese customs officials expanded the list of approved Brazilian corn exporting facilities in 2022. During November 2023, China imported a record 3.59 million tonnes of corn, nearly 90% of which was sourced from Brazil. So far in 2023, China has imported 22.2 million tonnes of corn, with 40% sourced from Brazil, 29% from the US, and the rest mostly from Ukraine.

Worries about Brazil’s safrinha crop, which is planted in January-February and harvested from June through August, stem from early-season difficulties for the country’s soybean crop, the world’s largest, as Gro wrote about here. Not enough rain in Brazil’s center-west regions and too much rain in the south — conditions likely exacerbated by El Niño — delayed soybean planting and could hurt yields. 

The good news for Brazilian producers is that more consistent rains have returned to central and northeastern Brazil and may stay into January, Gro’s forecast data shows.

The USDA’s current forecast calls for Brazil to produce 161 million tonnes of soybeans, narrowly topping last year’s record. Gro’s Brazil Soybean Yield Forecasting Model, which went live this week, indicates the USDA will need to reduce its forecast. 

Gro users can follow soybean crop progress for Brazil using Gro’s Brazil Soybean Monitor, which includes daily updating yield forecasts, drought readings, supply and demand balance sheet, and other features. 

Gro’s Brazil Corn Yield Forecast Model will go live early in 2024 when the crop becomes established.

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