Nov 18, 2021

Dispute Arises Over Soybean Planting Calendar in Mato Grosso

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

The soybean planting window in the state of Mato Grosso, which is Brazil's largest soybean producing state, has been restricted to help control the spread of soybean rust in the state. For six years, farmers in the state were allowed to start planting their soybeans on September 16th when the "soybean free" period ended and they had to complete their soybean planting by December 31st.

On September 1st of this year, the planting window was extended by 34 days until February 3rd by the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture at the behest of seed producers in Mato Grosso. They argued that planting later would allow them to produce higher quality seed.

That change caught scientists and state agencies completely by surprise. They have since argued that extending the planting season risks the proliferation of soybean rust with the possibility that they might even lose control of the worst disease that affects soybeans. Scientists at Embrapa, which is Brazil's most important agricultural research institution and part of the Ministry of Agriculture, continue to insist that it was the wrong decision.

Recently, a Public Prosecutor from the Brazilian Environmental Defense Bureau in the city of Cuiaba, which is the capital of Mato Grosso, has expressed her opposition to the change. She indicated that the current planting calendar was established after ample discussions between numerous institutions and the scientific community that agreed that the window was adequate for soybean planting and soybean rust control.

She along with State and Federal Public Prosecutors have recommended that the old planting calendar be maintained, and if necessary, modified in the future if justified by additional research. The Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) indicated that any change to the current calendar must be immediately communicated to its members so they can adjust their planting decisions if necessary.