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Brazil Seen Ramping Up Corn Production as Global Trade Flows Shift

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Brazil is forecast to produce another record corn crop in 2022/23, providing some comfort to importers, especially the EU and China, that had previously relied on corn supplies from Ukraine. 

Corn production in Brazil, the world’s second-largest corn exporter, is projected to jump 12% this year, helped by an increase in planted area, according to Brazil’s CONAB. Corn exports are forecast to rise 5.6% year over year to 47 million tonnes. Brazil corn export prices are notably lower than corn from the US, the No. 1 corn exporter, due to the strong US dollar.

Brazil has displaced Ukraine as the largest corn exporter to the EU, which has ramped up imports in the wake of this summer’s intense drought. So far in 2022/23, the EU has imported 7.4 million tonnes of corn, nearly double the amount from a year earlier, with 57% of the total coming from Brazil. 

China’s corn imports have soared more than twentyfold since 2010, driven largely by its skyrocketing livestock feed needs. After Russia invaded Ukraine, which last year supplied one-third of China’s corn imports, China was forced to seek out alternative supplies. Last month, China’s customs officials expanded the country’s list of approved Brazilian corn exporting facilities, setting the stage for a substantial increase in corn imports from Brazil, as Gro wrote about here

While it is early in Brazil’s growing season, weather conditions so far favor a strong crop. This display from Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, weighted for Brazil’s corn growing areas, shows favorable readings for the Gro vegetative health index and Gro Drought Index, as well as adequate levels of soil moisture and accumulated precipitation.

Brazil has two corn crops. The second crop, or safrinha, produces more than 70% of the total and is planted right after the soybean harvest, typically in January and February. While growing conditions are currently good, the La Niña weather pattern could still derail the crop. Climate forecasters ascribe a 76% chance that La Niña will stick around through February and a 40% chance of it lingering from February through April.

For a closer reading of Brazil crop prospects, Gro’s Brazil Corn Yield Forecast Model will begin generating daily updated forecasts down to the district level from mid-January, when the crop becomes established. The machine-learning model is included as part of Gro’s Brazil Corn Monitor, which also includes our vegetative health index and supply and demand balance sheet. 

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