Corn crops in southern Brazil were damaged by hot, dry weather in December but, in compensation, second-crop planted area will now likely grow, rather than decline, Agroconsult, a local farm analytics group, said Tuesday.
Brazil will produce just 32.1 million metric tons (mmt) of summer corn in 2013-14, down 8% on last year. The consultancy reduced its estimate after a hot, dry spell in Rio Grande do Sul and central Parana that hit corn during key development phases.
The forecast is lower than the Agriculture Ministry's estimate of 32.8 mmt.
Over the last five years, many farmers have stopped planting summer corn, instead planting second-crop corn after soybeans.
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However, low prices were expected to cause a decline in both first-crop and second-crop corn area this year.
The first crop followed the script, with area falling 6%, but a late surge in demand for seeds indicates that second-crop area will actually grow slightly, rather than fall, said Agroconsult.
It predicts second-crop area will rise 2% to 22.8 million acres in 2013-2104.
Farmers are very committed to double cropping and the best second-crop option remains corn. As a result, farmers will plant despite wafer-thin margins, Andre Pessoa, director of Agroconsult, told a press conference in Sao Paulo Tuesday.
The original plan of farmers was to use less technology on the second crop, but as stocks of low-tech hybrids dwindled they started buying higher tech seeds during the last few weeks, said Pessoa.
Still, reduced overall levels of technology and the likelihood that the impeccable weather of 2013 will not repeat itself in 2014 prompted Agroconsult to forecast a 7% decline in second-crop production to 44.1 mmt this season.
Alastair Stewart can be reached at Alastair.firstname.lastname@example.org
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