Brazil's Late Season Offers Hope for Midwest Planting

Farmers in Mato Grosso were late planting second crop corn, but yields will shine

My friend who farms a bit in Central Illinois wrote to tell me he's going to have to get out there soon and just plunge into the mud. Time's running out, and you do the best you can with what you've got.

Which is not totally unlike what happened this season in Mato Grosso, Brazil's biggest state for both soybeans and second-crop corn. Farmers there faced near-constant rains during the harvest of early beans, which compromised bean quality a bit, and brought fear for the second-crop corn planting.

Many of those guys missed the optimum planting window because the same February rains that helped stop up Brazilian ports also kept both their combines and corn planters out of the fields.

Planting Window

The planting window for Brazil has less to do with degree-days or early frosts than it has to do with the rising chance of the rains shutting off—as they do each year by, say, mid-April—before the corn is out of the woods.

ALSO ON FARM FUTURES: Brazil Corn, Bean Crops Up

Despite their eagerness to get the corn in the ground early, it's estimated that at least 15% of the state's second-crop corn was planted after the window slammed shut.  Even so, yield estimates for the 2012-13 second crop corn in Mato Grosso have been bumped up to 16 million tonnes, which would be an all-time record.  

Brazilian crop experts say one factor that contributed to the better than expected yield forecast was the same heavy precipitation that slowed down planting.

So maybe there's a ray of light for my frustrated pal in Central Illinois. Granted, the two situations are not perfectly comparable. But the Mato Grosso guys were figuring the only thing that mattered was the date by which they got their second-crop corn in the ground. And while that is a pretty important factor indeed, it's not the only one.

After all, lots of U.S. farmers got corn in early last year, and look what happened.

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