Tropical climates that allow for year-round farming would seem to be a tremendous economic advantage, but for corn and soybean farmers in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso it also poses a problem — an abundance of grain followed by about a 10 percent post-harvest loss, partially due to a lack of storage. 

“There is a 34 percent under-capacity of soybean storage, and the situation is aggravated by the rapidly increasing production of second-crop maize,” said University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Peter Goldsmith.

“The worst situation occurs in northern Mato Grosso with a simulation of a full-maize second crop. The potential to succession crop is great and current levels of storage are low. There is clear evidence of a shortage of storage, particularly private and cooperative, as grain production rises in the state,” he said.

Goldsmith conducted the research project, which was the first to employ Geographic Information System (GIS) software to map the coordinates of commercial, cooperative and private grain storage facilities in Mato Grosso.

“We created GIS coordinates for every facility, mapped them, and then overlaid how much the production there currently is and how much production there would be if farmers were to produce and store a second corn crop on 100 percent of the bean crop, in order to find the areas that had the most congestion and the least congestion,” Goldsmith said.

The study focused on commercial warehouses with capacity greater than 50,000 metric tons, mapping the state’s 2,143 registered warehouses.

“One region in the northern part of the state is about 6.9 million metric tons under capacity,” Goldsmith said.

“That’s 270 million bushels. If a typical grain bin holds about 50,000 bushels, that’s equivalent to 5,420 50,000-bushel grain bins. The area south of that in Lucas is five million metric tons under capacity.

“Of course, the actual under-capacity situation may be less because it assumes double-crop production on every acre. It would be highly unlikely that every acre would be farmed for soybean, maize, and a safrinha, or ‘little crop.’

“Alternatively, though, maize yields are less than half that commonly found in the Midwestern United States, so there is a significant up side to the size of the maize crop.’”

Goldsmith said tthe information will help determine the best, most convenient locations for additional storage.