BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Brazil’s corn harvest is forecast at 113 million tonnes for the 2021-22 marketing year, down 4 million tonnes on disappointing first-crop volumes, according to a Global Agricultural Information Network report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Brazil’s corn exports were lowered by 1 million tonnes, to 42 million tonnes, the report said, while imports remain above average levels, though they will continue to be sourced mostly from the Mescour trading bloc.

The La Niña weather phenomenon created long periods of drought in November and December 2021, which occurred right as corn crops in the south of the country were pollinating and filling grain. The USDA now forecasts first-season corn to total about 23.5 million tonnes in 2021-22. First crop, one of three corn seasons in Brazil, accounts for 25% of the South American nation’s marketing year total.

The USDA slightly revised up its forecast for corn planted area for the 2021-22 marketing year to 21 million hectares, an expansion of 5.5% on the current season. The USDA forecasts overall yield for the 2021-22 season at 5.38 tonnes per hectare. 

“The forecast, if realized, would represent more than 30% increase in production over Post’s estimate for the marketing year 2020-21 season, as well as a new corn harvest record for Brazil,” the USDA said.

The report said wheat production in Brazil is expected to reach 7.7 million tonnes for the 2021-22 season, an increase of more than 1.45 million tonnes from the current season thanks to forecast expansion in the planted area. Wheat imports are projected to rebound after the low volumes registered over the last two seasons. Wheat exports will remain high, thanks to a diverse buyers base. 

The USDA forecasts rice production at 7.9 million tonnes in 2021-22, a decrease of 100,000 tonnes from the record production in the current season. Unlike corn and wheat, rice exports have been stymied by surging maritime freight costs associated with shipment in containers versus in open vessels, the report noted.