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April 9, 2012

Farmers Disappointed with Harvest Results in Rio Grande do Sul

As the 2011/12 summer growing season comes to an end, farmers in the state of Rio Grande do Sul are confirming that their soybean and corn crops have been severely impacted by the drought that has lasted nearly the entire growing season. The soybean crop in the state is 45% harvested and another 40% of the crop is mature and ready to be harvested.

The soybean yields in the state vary widely with some yields quite good and other fields a total loss. The seed quality is also poor especially in the areas where the yields are the lowest. The best soybean yields are in the eastern production regions and the worst yields are in the western regions. The eastern part of the state received moderate rainfall during the growing season while the western part of the state, which lies along the border with Argentina, received only a fraction of their normal summer rainfall.

In eastern Rio Grande do Sul, soybean yields are in the range of 30 sacks per hectare (1,800 kg/ha or 26 bu/ac). In the western part of the state, soybean yields are in the range of 360 to 720 kg/ha or 5 to 10 bu/ac. In the central regions of the state, the average yields are estimated at 22 sacks per hectare (1,320 kg/ha or 19 bu/ac). Throughout the state, the earlier planted soybeans are generally yielding lower than the later planted soybeans because there was very little rain during virtually the entire pod filling period.

With more attention being paid to the soybean harvest, the corn harvest pace has slowed in recent days and it is now estimated at 65% complete. The drought accelerated the development of the corn crop and the corn harvest is approximately ten points ahead of average harvest pace. The yields of the corn crop mirror that of the soybeans with the highest yields in the east and the lowest yields in the western part of the state.

After their full-season corn crop failed, some dairy farmers in the state tried to plant a second crop of corn after moderate rains fell late in January, but this second planting of corn has also suffered from a lack of moisture. Most of the late planted corn is only expected to be used for silage or as forage for the dairy cattle since little or no grain is expected to be produced.

The recent dry weather has been favorable for the rice harvest in Rio Grande do Sul and in some locations the rice harvest is 75% complete.