Dec 20, 2023

2023/24 Brazil Soybeans Encounter Extreme Temperatures

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

Temperatures soared over the weekend from far southern Brazil all the way to the northern states with readings of 40°C (104°F) or hotter in at least ten Brazilian states. Temperatures reaching 38-43°C (100-110°F) were recorded in Mato Grosso, Goias, Tocantins, and Mato Grosso do Sul. Mostly dry weather prevailed across Brazil over the weekend. Hot and dry weather will prevail for the first half of this week with improved chances of rainfall starting later this week.

This heat wave is not going to last as long as previous ones in October and early November, but this time there are more soybeans that could be negatively impacted by the heat because they are setting pods and filling pods. The heat and moisture stress could push some of the early planted soybeans to maturity, thus cutting short the pod filling period.

Disappointing early soybean yields and hot and dry weather were the primary reasons the soybean estimate was lowered this week. The early planted soybeans will probably be the lower yielding especially with the current heat wave. The yield of the later planted soybeans should be better, but they can ill afford more hot and dry weather during January or February when they will be filling pods.

The 2023/24 soybeans in Brazil were 94% planted as of late last week compared to 100% average according to AgRural. This represents an advance of 3% for the week. The soybeans left to plant are in northeastern Brazil and far southern Brazil. AgRural will report soybean harvesting in Brazil starting with their January 8th report.

Brazilian farmers who are trying to replant some of their soybeans are having trouble finding seed of the popular varieties. It is hard to judge how many soybeans need to be replanted because of the irregular rainfall, but in the harder hit areas, farmers are indicating that 10-15% of the soybeans needed to be replanted. It is not normal to be planting soybeans this late in central Brazil and any soybeans planted at this point (mid-December) are at higher risk of lower yields especially if there is more adverse weather later in the growing season, or if there is an early end to the summer rainy season.

Mato Grosso - High temperatures are once again impacting the soybeans in the state. A few early maturing soybeans continue to be harvested with disappointing yields. The yields range from a low of about 10 bu/ac to a high of 30 bu/ac with many in the 20's bu/ac. Probably less than 1% of the state has been harvested thus far and the harvest pace will pick up shortly after New Years Day. The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture gave farmers in Mato Grosso an extra 20 days to plant or replant their soybeans until January 13, 2024 (see later article).

Parana - The weather in Parana has generally been favorable for soybean development, but farmers are concerned that the recent heat wave could cause flower and pod abortion and impede plant development. The soybeans in Parana were 1% germinating, 42% in vegetative development, 33% flowering, and 24% filling pods as of earlier last week according to the Department of Rural Economics (Deral). The soybeans were rated 2% poor, 12% average, and 86% good. The state of Parana is the epicenter of soybean rust cases in Brazil with 72 confirmed cases thus far or 80% of the reported cases.

Rio Grande do Sul - Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul planted 85-90% of their soybeans as of late last week, which is about equal to last year, but slower than the average according to Emater. This represents an advance of 8% for the week. The soybeans planted after November 15th emerged more uniformly and have had better plant development compared to soybeans that were planted during October.

Rainfall in the state since September has been more than 1000 mm (40 inches) above average leaving many low-lying areas saturated and unable to be planted. It is already late to be planting soybeans in the state and the vice-president of Aprosoja/RS estimates that 6-8% of the initial soybean acreage may not get planted to soybeans.

Soybean rust has been identified in the western part of the state and farmers are concerned that controlling the disease may be more difficult this year if wet weather keeps farmers from applying control measures. Some farmers are already applying fungicides trying to stay ahead of the disease.

Normally, the soybean production in the state is in the range of 20-22 million tons. The 2022/23 soybean production was cut to 10.5-11.0 million tons due to the drought. The vice-president is estimating the 2023/24 soybean production in the state in the range of 19-22 million tons.

Sao Paulo - The 2023/24 soybean planting in the south-central Brazilian state of Sao Paulo has not gone according to plan. After a dry September, soybean planting started in October after a few scattered showers. Rainfall during most of October was scarce and planting came to a halt. Many of the earlier planted soybeans died due to the record heat and lack of moisture.

When the rainfall picked up in November, farmers resumed planting their soybeans and replanted many of the earlier soybeans that had died. Planting is still ongoing in the state, which is very late for soybean planting. Additionally, there is now a seed shortage of the more popular soybean varieties due to excessive replanting across central Brazil.

To complicate matters even more, another heat wave took hold across central and south-central Brazil over the weekend which could make a tough situation even worse. Soybean yields were already expected to be impacted by the earlier adverse weather and the latest heat wave could impact yields even more.

The delayed soybean planting is also going to make it difficult to plant a second crop of corn within the ideal planting window, which ends about the third week of February.

Northeastern Brazil - Hot and dry weather in northeastern Brazil continues to delay soybean planting and replanting. Soybean planting in Bahia is 27% slower than average, Maranhao is 17% slower, and Piaui is 11% slower than average. This region has seen the least amount of rainfall and some of the hottest temperatures.