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April 2, 2015

Farmers in Paraguay increased their Safrinha Soybean Acreage

Soybean producers in Paraguay have been frustrated for two years in a row by adverse weather. Periods of dry weather in Paraguay not only impacted the full-season soybeans, but dry weather also impacted some of the safrinha soybean production as well. The earliest planted soybeans encountered periods of hot and dry weather last September and November. Not only did the adverse weather impact yields, it also speeded up the maturation of the crop which was harvested earlier than expected starting in December.

In some of the hardest hit areas, the full-season soybean yields were reduced by 35%. Agronomists in the region reported that soybean yields ended up in the range of 35 sacks per hectare (30 bu/ac) when normally yields should be closer to 55 sacks per hectare (48 bu/ac).

The early harvest of the full-season soybeans opened up a larger window for safrinha soybean production and farmers ended up increasing their safrinha soybean acreage. Originally it was estimated that farmers in Paraguay would plant 550,000 hectares of safrinha soybeans, which would have been about the same as the previous year. In the end, they planted approximately 700,000 hectares which means that about 22% of the full-season soybeans in Paraguay were followed by a second crop of soybeans.

The majority of the safrinha soybeans are grown in eastern Paraguay and that area was impacted by dry weather again as the safrinha soybeans were filling pods. As a result, some of the safrinha soybeans suffered losses of 50%. Historically, the prospects of making a profit on safrinha soybean production in Paraguay are limited due to the lower yield prospects of approximately 2,000 kg/ha (29 bu/ac).

For the safrinha soybeans that were planted early and received normal rainfall throughout the growing season, yields this year turned out better than expected with some approaching 3,000 kg/ha (43.5 bu/ac) or about equal to the full-season soybeans.

The full-season soybeans in Paraguay were expected to produce at least 8.5 million tons, but it ended up closer to 8 million tons. The safrinha soybeans are expected to produce approximately 1.2 million tons resulting in a total soybean production in Paraguay of slightly more than 9 million tons.

According to the Paraguay Oilseed and Cereal Exporters Association (Capeco), the crushers in Paraguay have the capacity to process 4.8 million tons of soybeans, which means that approximately 4.4 million tons of soybeans will be exported.