Drought and frost prevent a new record grain harvest in 2021

The lack of rain and frosts in recent months frustrated the prospects for another record grain harvest in the country. Released this Thursday, 9 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the estimate for the 2021 crop was reduced to 251.7 million tons, 1% below last year’s performance. And the possibility of further reductions in the estimate, in the coming months, was not ruled out by the IBGE.

“There are five consecutive months of reduction in the harvest estimate. These are consolidated losses, there is no longer any way to recover this (the record production volume). What may happen in the next reviews is, in fact, that we will have slightly higher losses in corn,” said Carlos Alfredo Guedes, manager of the IBGE Agriculture and Livestock Coordination, commenting on the Systematic Survey of Agricultural Production (LSPA) in August.

If confirmed, the drop in grain production in 2021 will be the first since the 2018 harvest. That year, grain production was 227.5 million, 4.7% below the performance of the previous year.

Even so, the 2021 harvest will be the second largest in history, only behind last year’s, which totaled 254.1 million tons. The historical series begins in 1975, when Brazil produced 39 million tons in the year.

According to the IBGE, despite the 4.3% increase in the planted area, to 68.3 million hectares, production will decline this year, reflecting the drop in second crop yields, especially corn.

The August survey showed that the second corn crop should reach 61.7 million tons in 2021, 19.4% lower than last year’s performance. This crop is practically all harvested.

Sorghum production should also drop this year, to 2.4 million tonnes, 13.8% less than last year. As both grains are used in the composition of swine and poultry feed, producers must continue with their costs pressured.

“Maize represents 70% of the components of swine and poultry feed and already came at a high price. What could ease the price a little would be a very good crop, which didn’t happen,” said Guedes. “The country has already been seeking to import a little corn from neighboring markets, including due to a question of price, even more than quantity.”

National agricultural production will not be even smaller this year because of the good performance of soybeans. With the harvest practically finished, IBGE estimates production of 133.8 million tons of grain, 10.1% higher than last year. It is a new historical record for culture. The rice harvest was also considered very good this year, growing 4.3% compared to 2020, totaling 11.5 million tons.

Expectations now turn to winter cereals, especially wheat. The IBGE estimates that wheat production will reach 8.2 million tons, 31.8% above last year.

According to Guedes, the bulk of the harvest will take place at the end of the year in Rio Grande do Sul, the largest national producer. “At harvest time, wheat can suffer from excessive rain. It can’t rain too much”, said the IBGE manager.

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