South America Calling
Alastair Stewart South America Correspondent

Tuesday 01/15/13

Brazil's Second-Crop Soy

As second-crop corn becomes an ever-more important revenue source for many Brazilian grain farmers, those that produce in areas unsuitable for January and February corn planting are looking at other alternatives.

One option being explored in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul is second-crop soy.

It has long been a tradition along the border with Argentina to plant soybeans immediately after the summer corn crop in January.

Now farmers in surrounding areas are looking to adopt this rotation, along with wheat.

Safrinha, or little crop, soybeans only cover about 100,000 acres in the northwest of Rio Grande do Sul.

"But farmers have discovered that this crop offers satisfactory returns and interest has grown over the last four years," said Joao Carlos Loro, chief agronomist at the Cotrimaio cooperative in northwest Rio Grande do Sul.

A tropical microclimate, which allows farmers to plant corn early in August, by the Uruguai River that separates Brazil and Argentina, prompted farmers in the region around Santa Rosa, northwest Rio Grande do Sul, to try the rotation. Now, half Santa Rosa's summer corn is followed by second-crop soybeans, covering approximately 75,000 acres.

However, from about 2008, farmers in nearby Tres de Maio and further afield discovered the corn/soybean rotation also worked there on lower-lying lands.

"Second-crop corn is becoming a wider reality in the state," said Alencar Rugeri, agronomist at the Rio Grande do Sul state agricultural support company (EMATER).

At present, the second-crop soybeans can only be employed in regions that plant corn in August.

"This limitation means it will never become a widespread feature of Brazilian grain farming," said Jairton Dezordi, chief agronomist at the Cotrirosa cooperative in Santa Rosa.

But Cotrimaio's Loro is not so certain, speculating that technological advancements will create new opportunities for second-crop soy.

"We get the rain between January and May when the soybean is in the ground, that's the most important thing. We must now work on the technology to exploit that," he added.

Meanwhile, farmers in the northwest of the state are also looking at producing sorghum as a second crop along with the traditional winter wheat output.

"Second crops are an important part of increasing farm revenues to the equivalent of second crop corn areas," said Loro.

Brazilian farmers have doubled second-crop planting over the last 10 years and now winter corn area, at nearly 19 million acres, is larger than for the summer crop. Indeed, it now covers 28% of area for soybeans, the crop that it follows.

Alastair Stewart can be reached at

Posted at 12:35PM CST 01/15/13 by Alastair Stewart
Comments (1)
Under no till its a no brainer
Posted by G C at 7:48PM CST 01/23/13
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