Dec 28, 2023

Soy Harvest and Safrinha Cotton Planting Underway in Mato Grosso

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

Mato Grosso is the largest soybean producing state in Brazil and the soybean harvest in the state is starting record early. A limited number of cotton farmers were given permission from the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture to plant their soybeans two weeks earlier than normal on September 1st and some of those fields were harvested before the end of November.

Additionally, hot and dry conditions in central Mato Grosso during October and November shortened the soybean growth cycle allowing for many of the early planted soybeans to be harvested during the last week of December.

As of late last week, 121,000 hectares of soybeans in the state had been harvested or approximately 1% of the total according to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea). Normally at this time of the year, the soybean harvest is basically 0%. Many farmers in central Mato Grosso have indicated that this is the first time they have ever harvested soybeans in December.

Early soybean yields in Mato Grosso have been very low in the range of 7 to 30 sacks per hectare (6.2 to 26.8 bu/ac) with some of the worst fields abandoned because the yields were so low, it would not pay for harvesting. These are some of the lowest soybean yields ever recorded in the cerrado region of central Brazil where widespread soybean production started in the 1980's.

Some of the early harvested soybeans will be followed by a second crop of cotton. Mato Grosso is the largest cotton producing state in Brazil and the safrinha cotton accounts for more than 85% of the state's cotton production. Since the soybean harvest is starting early, there should be ample time to plant the safrinha cotton before the ideal planting window closes at the end of January.

Early safrinha cotton planting could be especially important this year because during years with an El Nino, the summer rainy season can end earlier than normal. The last significant rain in central Brazil usually occurs in early May, but during years with El Nino, the last rain can occur as early as late March or early April. Therefore, cotton producers want to plant their safrinha cotton as early as possible this growing season.