SAO PAULO- The area planted with Brazil's first corn crop in the center south is expected to grow just 0.6% in the 2021/2022 cycle as growers will prefer to plant soybeans, according to agribusiness consultancy AgRural on Monday.

The area to be planted with Brazil's first corn, which competes with soybeans in the Southern Hemisphere's spring and summer, is estimated at 2.973 million hectares (7.3 million acres) this season, AgRural said.

"Even with corn prices at a very attractive level, the higher production cost compared to soybeans, in a year marked by a considerable increase in input prices, especially fertilizers, is weighing on the farmers' decision," AgRural said.

Fear of crop failure due to weather issues is also a factor, AgRural said.

In 2021, Brazil's second corn crop, which represents about 70% of output, was compromised by drought and ill-timed frosts that slashed output and hurt Brazil's export prospects this year.

AgRural sees Brazil's first corn crop growing by 2.7 million tonnes to 21.5 million tonnes in the center south during the 2021/2022 cycle, which is starting now. Brazilian farmers have already planted 5.3% of their first corn area for the current season, less than 8% at this time in 2020, according to AgRural data.

Brazil's second corn harvest for the 2020/2021 cycle, which was planted in the first quarter of the year, reached 89% of the area, AgRural said.

(Reporting by Roberto Samora and Nayara Figueiredo Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Bernadette Baum) ((; Tel: +55-11-5644-7704; Mob: +55-119-4470-4529; Reuters Messaging: