July 6, 2011


Fears grow for Brazil corn as further freeze looms



Farmers in Brazil are bracing for more frosts which are already believed to have caused losses of up to 30% in corn, halted exports, and led to warnings that official crop forecasts may be five million tonnes too large.


A fresh cold snap, while expected to spare coffee-growing areas freezing temperatures, will bring further frosts to the southern corn-farming states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, meteorologists said.


The states have already suffered, last week, frost billed in western Parana as the worst since 2000, and which struck as when 75% of the state's second crop or "safrinha" corn was in the susceptible pollinating or grain-filling stages, according to state farm officials.


Corn in the Maringa region in northern Parana, hit in the flower period, "did not make it", Brazilian analysts said.


The frost has added to the problems facing Brazil's safrinha corn crop, which typically accounts for about 40% of total production of the grain, but has been hurt further north, in Mato Grosso, by the early onset of the dry season ?a blow to farmers who were forced, by a delayed soy harvest, to plant late.


"Frost is just the latest problem for the safrinha corn crop, coming on the heels of continued problems in Mato Grosso caused by dry weather," analysts said.


"Parana had been expected to produce a record safrinha corn crop of 7.4 million tonnes, but that is now in doubt and the total production may not even match last year's production of 6.8 million tonnes," they said.


Analysts said that they were preparing to cut by up to 2 million tonnes their 53-million-tonne forecast for Brazil's total corn crop in 2010-11, a downgrade which would leave it well below the official estimate of 56.7 million tonnes.


The crop fears have already been reflected in Brazilian corn prices which, unlike those in Chicago, held firm last week.

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