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BRAZIL CORN WATCH: Rains boost soil moisture, improve growing conditions

Rains across key agricultural regions of Brazil over Oct. 18-24 improved soil moisture, aiding 2021-22 corn and soybean planting, data from the government agency and a local consultancy showed.

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The planting of first corn in the key states of Brazil, which accounts for 92% of the forecast area, reached 37.6% of the estimated area for 2021-22 as of Oct. 23, compared with 39.5% a year ago, data released Oct. 25 by the country's national agricultural agency, Conab, showed.

With corn planting in the southern states in the final stretch, sowing now advances in other states as the soil moisture improves, Brazil-based agriculture consultancy AgRural said in a report Oct. 25.

AgRural said that first corn planting in the center-south Brazil as of Oct. 21 were above the five-year average.

Meanwhile, 2021-22 soybean planting reached 36.8% of the estimated area in the oilseeds producing states of Brazil, which account for 97% of the cultivated area, as of Oct. 23, compared with 20.5% around the same period in 2020, Conab data showed.

The timely planting of soybean is crucial since the second corn crop is planted after soybean harvesting. Any delay in the oilseed crop planting could force farmers to plant corn crops outside of the ideal planting window, which could hurt corn yields.

The first corn crop in Brazil is planted during September-December and harvested in February-May, while the second crop is planted in February-March and harvested in June-July.

The first corn crop accounted for 25% of Brazil's total corn production in 2019-20.

The forecast for rainfall in the coming days in Brazil remain favorable for crop development.

"Rains should now shift into northern Brazil for this week, favoring Mato Grosso, Goias, Minas Gerais, northeastern Sao Paulo, and northern Mato Grosso do Sul. The rains should further improve moisture for corn and soybeans in northern areas, especially Mato Grosso," Maxar said in its daily weather report Oct. 26.

In the Center-West Region, rainfall is likely to be concentrated in the areas east of Mato Grosso do Sul, ranging between 50 mm and 100 mm over Oct. 26-Nov. 1 and in the northwest Mato Grosso and east of Mato Grosso do Sul, according to Brazil's National Institute of Meteorology, also known as INMET.

Corn imports jump

Corn imports into Brazil jumped to 436,607 mt in the first 15 business days of October, surpassing 190,810 mt imported in the whole of October 2020, customs data showed.

Brazil already imported 1.63 million mt of corn during January-September, compared with 1.37 million mt in the whole of 2020, customs data showed.

Although Brazil is among the world's largest exporters of corn, the southern states often import from Paraguay and Argentina as it is cheaper than transporting corn from the Midwest region of Brazil where the bulk of the corn crop is grown.

The animal protein industry, a major consumer of corn feed, is concentrated in southern Brazil.

Meanwhile, Brazil's corn exports in the first 15 business days of October totaled 1.4 million mt at a daily rate of 93,365 mt, against 250,191 mt/day in the whole of October 2020.

Brazil's corn output in 2020-21 dropped sharply due to drought and frost, which has reduced the quantity available for exports and increased imports.