BRASILIA, BRAZIL — New estimates for Brazil’s annual grain harvest indicate a total production of 165.9 million tonnes for the 2011-12 season, a record for Brazilian agricultural production, according to the 11th Harvest Survey announced by the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa) Mendes Ribeiro Filho and the National Supply Company (Conab). The grain crop is expected to exceed last year’s production volume by 3.1 million tonnes, representing a 1.9% increase from the 2010-11 harvest.

“We have reached an extremely significant figure, which allows us to make optimistic forecasts and review planning for the next harvest. It is possible that we will reach the 170 million tonne mark before the end of the year,” said Mendes Ribeiro.

According to Secretary for Agricultural Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture Caio Rocha, Brazil’s record harvest is the result of an increase in cultivated area and, more importantly, investment in technology.

“Due to strengthened genetics and qualified surveys, new varieties and instruments for land conservation are emerging, which goes to show that Brazil is a first world nation in terms of agricultural production,” said Rocha.

Data shows 71.7% growth in production of second crop corn, equivalent to an increase of 16.1 million tonnes from the previous harvest, reaching a total 38.56 million tonnes. Last year 22.46 million tonnes of corn were harvested. These results in corn production are due to favorable conditions for cultivation in areas with the greatest production. Estimates for consolidated first and second crops show an increase of 26.8% or 15.37 million tonnes to a total estimated production volume of 72.78 million tonnes of corn in 2011-12.

Soybean and rice production has decreased by 8.9 million and 2.01 million tonnes, respectively.  This is mainly due to unfavorable weather, especially during the early growing season, that affected Brazil’s South and Southeast Region as well as the southwest area of Mato Grosso do Sul State. Furthermore, severe drought in Brazil’s northeastern states led to a 22% (3.53 million tonne) drop in the region’s total production as compared to the previous harvest.

Brazil’s estimated total planted area for the 2011-12 harvest is 50.81 million hectares, a growth of 1.9% or 935,800 hectares more than the 2010-11 figure of 49.87 million hectares. Second crop corn shows a 22.9% increase in cultivated area, equivalent to 1.41 million hectares. Soybean had the second largest increase in planted area with an increase of 3.4% or 1,000 hectares.

Conversely, rice and bean crops show decreased area due to difficulty in commercialization, adverse weather in the Northeast Region, lack of water in reservoirs and increases in production costs.

The 11th Harvest Survey was conducted by 52 technicians who interviewed representatives of Brazil’s agriculture sector, with emphasis on professionals from cooperatives, agriculture secretariats and official and private assistance and rural extension bodies in the main production zones. The survey took place from July 22-28.