Jan 24, 2024

2023/24 Brazil Soybeans 6% Harvested, Early Yields Disappoint

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

Rainfall over the weekend favored south-central and northwestern growing areas. Rainfall this week should favor northern and central areas, which will improve soil moisture, but slow the soybean drydown and harvest. During the 6-10 day period, the rain should be mostly limited to the northeastern region.

Brazil's soybeans were 6% harvested as of late last week compared to 1.8% last year and 3.4% average according to AgRural. This represents an advance of 3.7% for the week. Mato Grosso leads the way with 12.8% harvested and 7% has been harvested in Parana. The soybean harvest is being pushed along due to a shortened growth cycle for the early maturing soybeans and lower yields.

The consulting firm Agroconsult conducts the most extensive crop tours in Brazil and last week in a pre-crop tour press conference, they lowered the Brazilian soybean estimate to 153.8 million tons. Agroconsult estimates that 2.9 million hectares of soybeans were replanted (7.16 million acres) or 6.4% of Brazil's total. One-third of the replanted soybeans were in Mato Grosso, which is why they are planning to conduct two crop tours in the state to judge the impact of late planting. Currently, they are estimating the Mato Grosso soybean yield at 52.5 sacks per hectare (46.9 bu/ac) compared to 63.8 sacks per hectare last year (57.0 bu/ac).

Mato Grosso - The soybeans in Mato Grosso were 12.8% harvested as of late last week compared to 5.9% last year and 7.9% average. This represents an advance of 6.3% for the week. The most advanced harvest is in western Mato Grosso where 23.4% of the soybeans have been harvested.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) lowered their estimate for the 2023/24 soybean crop in Mato Grosso. They are estimating the statewide soybean yield at 53.59 sacks per hectare (47.9 bu/ac), which is down 7.4% from December and down 13.9% from last year.

Imea's soybean yields are down in most regions of the state with the average yield in the west at 47.0 bu/ac, the northeast at 47.2 bu/ac, the center-south at 47.2 bu/ac, and the north at 48.1 bu/ac. The lower yields are being attributed to prolonged periods of hot and dry weather resulting from a strong El Nino. The early maturing soybeans were more impacted by the adverse weather than the later maturing soybeans because the hot and dry weather occurred during pod filling.

The 2023/24 soybean acreage in Mato Grosso is unchanged from last month at 12.17 million hectares (30.0 million acres), which is up 0.37% from the prior year. The 2023/24 soybean production in the state is estimated at 39.0 million tons, which is down 13.9% from last year.

In the municipality of Tapurah in central Mato Grosso, the soybeans are 30% harvested and the yields are averaging approximately 40 sacks per hectare (35,7 bu/ac). The current wet weather is negatively impacting the seed quality and it could get worse if the forecast verifies for persistent rains this week in Mato Grosso. Below is the soybean harvest progress in Mato Grosso (red line) from Imea.


The consulting firm EarthDaily Agro suggest that farmers in Mato Grosso are looking at the lowest soybean yields in 15 years. They are estimating the average statewide yield at 52.1 sacks per hectare (46.5 bu/ac), which would be 15% below trend.

Parana - In December, the Department of Rural Economics in Parana (Deral) estimated that the state would produce 21.9 million tons of soybeans with the possibility it could hit 23 million. That is no longer the case and now Deral is estimating that the soybean production will be 20 million tons or less. The reason for the reduction was hot and dry weather during December which impacted the earlier maturing soybeans during pod filling. Parana started out excessively wet during the first half of the growing season, but the weather has turned decisively dryer since mid-December.

As of earlier last week, the soybeans in Parana were 5% in vegetative development, 18% blooming, 54% filling pods, 23% mature, and 7% harvested. The soybeans were rated 5% poor, 29% average, and 64% good.

In the municipality of Goioere in western Parana, the soybean harvest has started with less than 5% harvested. The early yields are good in the range of 50 to 60 sacks per hectare (44.7 to 53.6 bu/ac), but the later developing soybeans are expected to have lower yields. The rainfall started to diminish in mid-December and since Christmas, rainfall in the region has been sparce. Unfortunately, 50-60% of the soybeans were filling pods as moisture stresses started to develop. The president of the local Rural Union expects the soybean yields to decline as the harvest progresses.

Rio Grande do Sul - The soybean planting is finally complete in Rio Grande do Sul. Emater is estimating that farmers planted 6.74 million hectares of soybeans (16.6 million acres) and that the average yield will be 3,327 kg/ha (49.5 bu/ac). The average plant height is reported to be shorter than average due to excessive moisture and cloudy conditions since planting. The soybeans are 80% germinating and in vegetative development.

Mato Grosso do Sul - In the municipality of Caarapo in southern Mato Grosso do Sul, farmers have harvested 8-10% of their soybeans and yields are in the range of 40 to 50 sacks per hectare (35.7 to 44.7 bu/ac), which is 20-30% lower than average. The lower yields are the result of hot and dry weather while the early maturing soybeans were filling pods. The later maturing soybeans are expected to have higher yields.

Farmers are reluctant to forward contract their soybeans while they wait for higher prices. The president of the Rural Union of Caarapo estimates that farmers have forward contracted 30-40% less than the average for this time of the year.

Santa Catarina - The vice-president of the Agriculture & Livestock Federation of Santa Catarina (Faesc) estimates that farmers in the state will harvest 15% less soybeans and corn compared to last year. During the months of October and November, the state received 1,000 mm of precipitation (40 inches), which delayed the soybean planting and negatively impacted corn pollination. December turned out to be very dry, which impacted the crops even more. The weather in the state only returned to something close to normal during January.

Bahia - While some soybean farmers in the state of Bahia in northeastern Brazil have just finished planting their dryland soybeans, others have already started harvesting their irrigated soybeans. Hot and dry weather during October, November, and the first half of December delayed the planting of the dryland soybeans by at least a month or more.

The rainfall improved in western Bahia starting on December 20th, so the dryland soybeans were planted 30-35 days later than normal. According to the Association of Irrigated Agriculture in Bahia (Aiba), planting of the dryland soybeans concluded during the second week of January.

The dryland soybeans are currently in vegetative development with some of the crop starting to flower. Rainfall will be needed on a regular basis through February and March for the dryland soybeans to achieve the expected yield of 60 sacks per hectare (53 bu/ac).

While the dryland soybean planting was delayed, the irrigated soybeans were planted on time last October. In the municipality of Correntina in western Bahia, approximately 10% of the irrigated soybeans have been harvested with the average yield in the range of 80 sacks per hectare (71 bu/ac).

The state is expected to plant approximately 2 million hectares of soybeans in 2023/24, which is approximately 4% of Brazil's total soybean acreage and half of the soybean acreage in northeastern Brazil.