Nov 14, 2019

Soybean Planting in Northeastern Brazil off to Irregular Start

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The start of the summer rains in northeastern Brazil has been irregular and as a result, so too has been the planting of the 2019/20 soybean crop. The soybeans in northeastern Brazil are usually some of the latest planted in Brazil due to the delayed onset of the summer rains. The summer rains generally start in western Brazil in September and work their way east to northeastern Brazil by November/December.

Northeastern Brazil has been on the forefront of soybean expansion in recent years due to cheaper land and a closer proximity to export facilities, but the summertime weather in the region can be unpredictable with periods of dry weather. The major agricultural states in this region are general considered to be Bahia, Piaui, Maranhao, Tocantins, and northern Minas Gerais.

In the municipality of Balsas, Maranhao, which is located in the central part of the state, some farmers have already finished planting their soybeans, while others have not even started due to dry conditions. There are rains in the forecast starting later this week, and if they do materialize, there would still be time to plant soybeans before the ideal window closes about December 10th.

If the soybeans are planted before the window closes, yields are expected to be in the range of 60 sacks per hectare (53.2 bu/ac), which would be an improvement compared to last year. Soybean prices in the region are in the range of R$ 77 to R$ 78 per sack (approximately $8.75 to $8.85 per bushel).

In the municipality of Darcinopolis, Tocantins, which is located in the northern part of the state, the soybeans are 30-40% planted compared to 50-60% last year. If the rains materialize as forecasted, farmers are still expecting to plant their soybeans within the ideal window which closes in early December.

In the municipality of Paracatu, Minas Gerais, which is located in the western part of the state, farmers have planted only 25% of their soybeans compared to 80% last year at this time and planting has now been suspended while farmers wait for additional rains. The longer planting is delayed, the more concerned farmers become about controlling soybean rust late in the growing season when it can become quite rainy.

The fungicides used to control soybean rust are contact fungicides, which means they must be reapplied within a certain timeframe or the disease can get out of control. Farmers are worried that soybean rust could become a larger problem in March of next year when it can be quite rainy. Soybean prices in the region are generally good at R$ 76 per sack (approximately $8.60 per bushel).