Feb 04, 2019

Pushback Continues against late Planting of Soy in Mato Grosso

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

Several months ago, the president of the Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja-MT) floated a proposal that would allow seed producers in the state to plant their soybeans that will be used for seed production all the way into mid-February. That proposal met with swift criticism from the scientific community which indicated that it would make it harder to control soybean rust, which is the number one soybean disease in Brazil. Now there is even pushback from major seed producers in the state as well.

New planting regulations went into effect in 2015 that stipulated that no soybeans in Mato Grosso may be planted after December 31st and that all the soybeans must be harvested by May 5th and that no live soybean plants are permitted between June and September. The regulation also expressly prohibited a second crop of soybeans in the same field during the same growing season. The rational for the new regulations is that a longer soybean-free period would diminish the chances of rust spores surviving from one growing season to the next, thus reducing control costs.

The scientists and other seed producers point out that extending the soybean growing season in the state could increase the spread of soybeans rust resulting in increased applications of fungicides which in turn, could increase the chances of the disease developing resistance to popular fungicides. In other words, there could be a long term increased cost for all soybean growers in the state in exchange for a short term gain for a few small seed producers.

Three large seed producers in southeastern Mato Grosso have taken exception to the proposal as well. Spokespersons for the Bom Jesus Group, which will produce approximately one million sacks of soybean seed this year in Mato Grosso, Bahia, and Piaui, Petrovina which also producers approximately a million sacks of soybean seed, and Girassol Agricols which producers approximately 800,000 sacks all agreed that such a proposal would be like "shooting yourself in the foot."

They contend that allowing seed producers to plant their soybeans later in the growing season would disrupt the entire seed production system in the state. Controlling soybean rust gets harder as the growing season progresses and they feel that some of the small seed producers would not have the financial wherewithal to make the repeated fungicide applications needed to control the disease, thus allowing the spores to remain viable until the next growing season.

For their part, proponents of the proposal argue that a late planting would give seed producers a second opportunity to produce seed if their first crop had poor quality due to too much rain during harvest. They contend that poor quality seed is harder to store and maintain until the next planting season. They also feel that producing small qualities of seed for their own use could also avoid problems of seed delivery at planting time and it could help to lower the price of seed.