Jan 04, 2024

Early 2023/24 Soybean Yields in Brazil Disappoint

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

Brazil's soybean estimate was lowed this week due to continued low yields being reported from the earlier maturing soybeans and they will remain low until the harvest moves into the later maturing soybeans. Rainfall has increased across central and northeastern Brazil, but rain at this point is coming too late for the early maturing soybeans, but it would be beneficial for the later maturing soybeans.

Soybean estimates from analysts in Brazil are in the range of 150 to 155 million tons, while soybean farmers in Brazil are expecting a production of less than 150 million tons. The lowest estimate is from the director of the consulting firm SimConsult who is estimating the crop at 130.4 million tons. He complained last week that the market was not serious about the negative impact from the hot and dry weather in October and November. I have not heard of any other estimate even close to that number.

The early harvest has started in Mato Grosso with a few fields in western Parana harvested as well, but the soybean harvest nationwide in Brazil is probably still less than 1%. The harvest pace will pick up this week due to the shortened production cycle caused by the hot and dry conditions in central Brazil during October and November.

Mato Grosso - The soybeans in Mato Grosso were probably 1-2% harvested as of late last week. This is a record early start for soybean harvesting in the state. Normally at this time of the year, the soybean harvest is less than 1%. 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.

Parana - Soybean producers in the state of Parana in southern Brazil have been fortunate this growing season. They have not encountered the hot and dry conditions that has impacted central and northeastern Brazil nor the saturated and localized flooding conditions in the states further south.

In the municipality of Palotina in western Parana, ample rainfall in September allowed for an early start to planting and above normal temperatures in October and November shortened the soybean growth cycle. This has allowed for an early start to harvest with a few soybean fields harvested before Christmas. The harvest pace will pick up this week and next week in fields where desiccants have been applied.

Desiccants are used to speed up the drydown of pods and stems. Once a desiccant is applied, the soybeans should be ready for harvest in 7 to 10 days.

Farmers are encouraged by the early yield results. According to the president of the Rural Union of Palotina/PR, yields of the soybeans harvested before Christmas were in the range of 45 to 50 sacks per hectare (40 to 45 bu/ac). The soybeans that will be harvested this week are expected to yield 60 to 65 sacks per hectare (53.6 to 58 bu/ac). Soybeans that will be harvested at the end of January are expected to yield 70 sacks per hectare or more (62.5 bu/ac).

Most of the early harvested soybeans will be followed by a second crop of corn and since the soybean harvest started earlier than normal this year, the safrinha corn should be planted within the ideal planting window which closes about the third week of February.

Rio Grande do Sul - Soybean planting in the state reached 94% as of late last week before more rain moved into the area. Soybeans planted during October are closing the rows and approximately 3% of the soybeans statewide have started to flower. The soybeans planted in November encountered a lot of heavy rain requiring some of the fields to be replanted. Some farmers have already applied their first fungicide application to control soybean rust.

Mato Grosso do Sul - Soybean producers in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul now have until January 13th to finish planting their 2023/24 soybeans. The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture has extended the soybean planting window for several states in Brazil due to the hot and dry weather across much of Brazil during October and November.

The extension had been requested by Aprosoja/MS and Famasul after farmers had reported that they had not received enough moisture to plant or replant their soybeans by the end of the original planting window on December 24th.

Farmers in the state were expected to increase their soybean acreage 6.5% to 4.26 million hectares (10.5 million acres) with an average yield of 54 sacks per hectare (48.2 bu/ac) and a production of 13.8 million tons. Both the planted acreage and average yield are expected to be lower than originally anticipated, so the Minister of Agriculture wanted to give farmers in Mato Grosso do Sul and other states the maximum flexibility in getting their soybeans planted.

In the municipality of Laguna Carapa in southwestern Mato Grosso do Sul, approximately 50% of the soybeans encountered periods of hot and dry weather during the critical pod filling period. The adverse weather shortened the growth cycle and yield losses are expected to be in the range of 15 sacks per hectare (13.4 bu/ac). The other 50% of the soybeans will fill pods later and require adequate rainfall to insure adequate pod filling.