Aug 25, 2023

Farmers May Substitute Safrinha Cotton for Safrinha Corn

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Cotton producers in Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's largest cotton producing state, are experiencing better returns on their 2022/23 cotton production. The biggest expense in cotton production is the cost of chemicals such as insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides and the cost of those chemicals declined 35% in 2023. Lower cost on inputs combined with a relatively good price for cotton, has improved the profitability of the 2022/23 cotton crop in the state.

In Mato Grosso, cotton and corn are planted as a second crop after soybeans, so the two crops compete for the same acreage. The corn acreage in the state is much larger at approximately 12 million hectares compared to 1.2 million for cotton.

While cotton producers are faring relatively well in the state, corn producers are disappointed with the prices paid for their corn. The price of corn in the state has declined 39% compared to last year resulting in tight margins or no margin at all. Even with lower fertilizer prices, which is a major expense for growing corn, margins for corn are less than for cotton.

As farmers in Mato Grosso prepare for their 2023/24 growing season, some are contemplating switching some of their safrinha corn to safrinha cotton instead.

Cotton farmers in Mato Grosso have harvested 61% of their 2022/23 cotton compared to 89% last year. The slow harvest pace is being attributed to delayed planting and extended summer rainfall. Cotton yields are expected to be within initial expectations.

The Cotton Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Ampa) asked for permission from the Minister of Agriculture to start planting soybeans in Mato Grosso on September 1st instead of the official start date of September 16th. Late last week, the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Favaro, granted permission to start planting soybeans in Mato Grosso on September 1st.

It appears that cotton producers wanted to move up soybean planting to allow more time to plant a second crop of safrinha cotton. The ideal planting window for safrinha cotton in Mato Grosso closes about the end of January and during the 2022/23 growing season, a significant percentage of the cotton was planted after that date.