Mar 04, 2014

Dryer Weather Allows Advance of Brazil Soybean Harvest

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

Soybean harvesting in Mato Grosso is now approaching 60% complete. Farmers in the state harvested 11% of their soybean crop last week and the harvest pace is now slightly behind last year's pace. Nationwide, the Brazilian soybean crop is approximately 42% harvested which is slightly ahead of last year.

Mato Grosso - Dryer weather last week allowed farmers to return to the field and resume harvesting their 2013/14 soybean crop. The heavy rains earlier in the month resulted in loses across the state in the range of 5% to 30% The Mato Grosso Institute of Agriculture Economics (Imea), estimates that nearly a half a million tons of soybeans have been lost due to sprouting in the pods and poor seed quality. The hardest hit areas were in the central and northern part of the state. The forecast for this week is for more heavy rains to move into the state once again.

Imea estimates that the statewide yield will decline 1.8% to 53 sacks per hectare (3,180 kg/ha or 46 bu/ac). The total production in the state is estimated at 26.39 million tons which is down about a half a million tons from their previous estimate of 26.88 million tons.

When the opportunity presents itself, many farmers are being forced to harvest their soybeans at moistures much higher than desirable. Some farmers are harvesting their soybeans as high as 20% moisture or more, which requires the soybeans to be dried before being put into storage. This is resulting in long lines at the grain elevators because of the lack of drying capacity. The rainy weather is also contributing to excessive truck traffic on highways that are already chaotic. The rain slows down the traffic and makes the potholes even more precarious.

Parana - The State Secretary of Agriculture in the state of Parana estimates that the hot and dry weather earlier in the growing season reduced the state's soybean crop by 2 million tons and if the adverse weather persists, losses could go as high as 2.5 million tons. Parana is the second largest soybean producing state and it was originally estimated to produce a record of 16.5 million tons in 2013/14, but not any longer. Soybean harvest in the state has passed the halfway mark.

The hardest hit area is the northern part of the state and better than expected yields in southern Parana will compensate for some of the losses but certainly not all. Seed producers in the state are also concerned that they will need to bring in seed from other states next growing season.

Rio Grande do Sul - Rio Grande do Sul, (the third largest soybean producing state) the Brazilian Soybean Producers Association (Aprosoja) estimates that the hot and dry weather during January and February resulted in losses as high as 20% in the most severely affected regions of the state. The earlier planted soybeans in the state aborted flowers and pods when the record high temperatures hit the state. The later planted soybeans escaped much of the damage because they entered their critical pod filling phase after the hottest temperatures had passed. Farmers in the state are referring to the record high temperatures as having "cooked" the soybeans.

The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul are filling pods with the most advanced soybeans approaching maturity. The month of March is the main soybean harvesting month in the state.

Goias, Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Minas Gerais - The soybean production in all four of these states was hit hard by hot and dry weather during December, January, and early February. The weather during the second half of February improved, but much of the damage had already been done because the soybeans were filling pods during the adverse weather.

Agronomists have been warning farmers in these states that they needed to closely check their fields to assess the number of seeds per pod and the seed size because they were worried that yields might be lower than expected. As harvest progresses in these states, disappointing yields now appears to be the norm.

In these eastern states it was not just soybeans and corn that was impacted by the hot and dry weather. The coffee, sugarcane, and orange crops have also been negatively impacted. The lakes at the hydroelectric dams are very low and there are concerns about shortages of electricity later in the year. The lake level behind the huge Itaipu dam on the Parana River is five meters below normal and it has exposed some of the foundations of the buildings that were flooded by the dam nearly 20 years ago.