Jan 31, 2024

2023/24 Brazil Soybean Harvest is 11% vs. 5% Last Year

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

Recent rainfall in Brazil has favored northern and northeastern Brazil. The rainfall in the northern areas has improved soil moisture but slowed soybean drydown and harvesting. The forecast for this week is calling for more rain in northern and northeastern Brazil with only light amounts in central and southern Brazil. Central and southern Brazil have been drying out for the last several weeks and that could be worrisome for the later planted soybeans.

Brazil soybeans were 11% harvested as of late last week compared to 5% last year and 7.6% average according to AgRural. This represents an advance of 5% for the week. The harvest lost a little momentum due to wet weather in central and northern Mato Grosso. The harvest is ongoing in every major state except for Rio Grande do Sul.

Soybean yields across Brazil continue to be disappointing everywhere the harvest has started. It is no surprise that lower yields are being reported out of Mato Grosso due to the adverse weather. What is surprising are the lower yields reported in the state of Parana where dry weather during December and early January negatively impacted what was once a promising crop.

I think the Brazilian soybean estimate will eventually move lower but that will depend on the yields of the later maturing soybeans. Thus far, the only yield reports are from the early maturing soybeans that were impacted by the hot and dry conditions during October and November.

Mato Grosso - Farmers in the state had harvested 21.5% of their soybeans as of late last week compared to 13.6% last year and 18% average. This represents an advance of 8.6% for the week. The most advanced harvest is in western Mato Grosso where 34% of the soybeans have been harvested. Below is the soybean harvest pace in Mato Grosso (red line) from the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea).


Imea estimates that at the current price of soybeans, farmers in Mato Grosso would need a yield of 54.7 sacks per hectare (48.9 bu/ac) to break even. Imea's current estimate for the 2023/24 soybean crop in Mato Grosso is 53.5 sacks per hectare (47.9 bu/ac). The situation could get even worse in 2024/25. Imea estimates that with increased costs and the same price of soybeans as today, a farmer would need a yield of 62.06 sacks per hectare (55.4 bu/ac) to break even with his 2024/25 soybeans.

In addition to lower yields, farmers in parts of Mato Grosso are reporting poor seed quality due to wet weather at the time of harvest. Poor seed quality is a frequent problem for soybeans that are harvested in January, which is generally the peak of the rainy season in Mato Grosso.

Mato Grosso farmer selling - Farmers in the state have sold 98% of their 2022/23 soybeans with an average price in December of R$ 117.75 per sack (approximately $10.92 per bushel). For the 2023/24 crop, farmers in the state have sold 37% of their anticipated production for an average price in December of R$ 111.05 per sack (approximately $10.30 per bushel). The average soybean price in the state last week was R$ 100.15 per sack (approximately $9.29 per bushel.

Parana - As I mentioned earlier, the once promising soybean crop in Parana has lost some of its luster and the state is poised to potentially be the biggest surprise in Brazil. Soybeans in Parana were 12% harvested as of last week. The Department of Rural Economics (Deral) last week slashed their estimate for Parana's 2023/24 soybean production by 2.4 million tons to 19.2 million. The estimate is now 15% lower than the 25.5 million tons estimated at the start of the growing season. Hot and dry weather during the second half of December and early January impacted the early maturing soybeans as they were filling pods.

The soybeans in Parana were 12% harvested as of last week and the soybeans were rated 8% poor, 31% average, and 61% good.

Rio Grande do Sul - The development of the soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul has improved with the recent beneficial weather. Soybeans are 62% in vegetative development, 30% blooming, 8% filling pods, and most of the soybeans are closing the rows. Producers are being advised to monitor pest numbers and especially to watch for soybean rust. There were 82 confirmed cases of soybean rust in the state last week.

Goias - In the municipality of Rio Verde in southwest Goias, 15% to 20% of the soybeans have been harvested and yields are very poor, below 30 sacks per hectare (26.8 bu/ac). The soybeans currently being harvested are early maturing varieties that were impacted the most by adverse weather. The situation in Goias is similar to other states in central Brazil.

The soybeans planted in September were impacted by hot and dry conditions during October and November when the crop was setting pods and filling pods. Dry weather resulted in many soybeans being planted 30 days later than normal and some of the soybeans had to be replanted, making the crop even later.

At the start of the growing season, farmers in the region expected soybean yields in the range of 65 to 70 sacks per hectare (58 to 62.5 bu/ac) according to the president of the Rural Union of Rio Verde/GO. The final yield is expected to be less than 50 sacks per hectare (44.7 bu/ac), which would be down 15% to 20% from initial expectations.

The late planting of the soybeans is also going to delay the planting of the safrinha corn past the ideal planting window. Farmers in the region are expected to reduce their safrinha corn acreage by 15% to 20%. In place of safrinha corn, some farmers may plant grain sorghum, sunflowers, cotton, sesame, or a cover crop.

Bahia - The soybean crop in Bahia started off on a troubled note. High temperatures and very localized showers slowed the initial soybean planting according to the director of Aprosoja/Bahia. The soybean planting which should have ended in November was extended into December and early January. The director believes that the late planting will reduce soybean yields by at least 10%. The later planted soybeans will also be exposed to increased pest and disease pressures.

Sao Paulo - Previous hot and dry conditions are causing losses for both the dryland and irrigated soybeans. In the municipality of Candido Mota, which is just north of the border with Parana, the soybeans are 3-5% harvested and soybean yields on the better soils are down 30-40%. On the sandier soils, the yields are down 60-70%. The early maturing soybeans were impacted the most by the hot and dry weather during October and November. The later maturing soybeans are expected to have better yields, but not good enough to compensate for the earlier losses.