Jan 21, 2022

Lack of Chemical Desiccants Could Complicate Soy Harvest in Brazil

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

Brazilian farmers are worried that the lack of chemical desiccants may complicate their soybean harvesting. Farmers especially in northern Brazil apply a desiccant to their soybeans when the leaves start to turn yellow. This allows the pods and stems to dry down uniformly facilitating harvest within 7-10 after applying the desiccant.

This dry down is especially important for soybeans produced in northern Brazil where the harvest may coincide with the peak of the rainy season. The constant wet weather is not conducive for a uniform maturity of the soybeans. If a desiccant is not applied during these wet periods, soybean stems and pods may not mature uniformly making harvesting more difficult and producing poorer quality seed because some of the soybeans may still be green while others have already matured.

For many years, Paraquat was the preferred desiccant used in Brazilian soybean fields, but the Brazilian government has banned the use of Paraquat due to potential health concerns. The alternative to Paraquat is Diquat, but the company that produces the chemical cannot keep up with the demand and prices have skyrocketed.

The Brazilian Soybean & Corn Producers Association (Aprosoja) feels the lack of Diquat could cause serious problems for Brazilian soybean farmers, so they have officially petitioned the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture to immediately authorize the emergency use Paraquat so the soybean harvest is not needlessly delayed jeopardizing the yield and quality of the seed.

Paraquat was also widely used in Brazil to burn-down cover crops prior to planting no-till soybeans and corn.

In addition to a shortage of chemicals to finish the soybean harvest, farmers in Brazil are also experiencing shortages of inputs for their safrinha corn crop. They are concerned that they may miss the ideal window to plant safrinha corn due to a lack of available herbicides and delayed deliveries of fertilizers and corn seed. In addition to delivery delays, prices of the inputs have skyrocketed in recent months.