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August 15, 2016

Fewer Violations of Soybean-Free Ban Cited in Mato Grosso

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

The state of Mato Grosso, in the center-west region of Brazil, is in the midst of its annual "soybean-free" period during which it is prohibited to have any live soybean plants on your property. This prohibition will continue until September 15th when farmers are allowed to start planting their 2016/17 soybean crop. In order to insure compliance, the Plant and Animal Protection Department of the state of Mato Grosso (Indea-MT), sends out teams of inspectors searching for live soybean plants.

Indea recently announced that they have inspected more than 3,000 properties and only 25 citations were issued for live soybean plants. Once informed of a violation, the landowner has 10 days to eliminate the plants or face hefty fines. Indea has 90 inspectors consisting of agronomists and foresters who search for spilled soybeans that have germinated in the field, along roadways, or around storage and transportation facilities. The only live soybeans permitted during the soybean-free period are those used in scientific research for the development of new soybean varieties or for seed multiplication, but these fields need prior approval from Indea and they are inspected regularly for the presence of soybean rust.

The goal is to eliminate what is referred to as a "green point" or in other words, a live soybean plant that could harbor soybean rust and allow the rust spores to survive from one growing season to the next. Soybean rust is by far the most costly and destructive soybean disease in Brazil. Since its introduction into Brazil during the 2000/01 growing season, it has costed Brazilian farmers tens of billions of dollars in chemical costs and lost productivity. The disease is being credited as a major cause of why soybean yields have stagnation in Brazil for the past decade.

Indea indicated that during the first half of June inspectors visited 1,275 properties and found 11 infractions. From mid-June to mid-July, inspectors visited 1,740 properties and found 14 infractions. These are low numbers compared to previous years and Indea credits the low numbers to landowners being more diligent in eliminating live soybean plants and to a dryer-than-normal dry season this year. The rains in Mato Grosso basically ended by mid-April this year compared to some of the previous years when the rains extended into June.

After several years of starts and stops in adopting a longer soybean-free period, a new planting and harvesting calendar has been established in the state. Farmers in Mato Grosso are now allowed to plant soybeans starting on September 15th and they must conclude their planting by December 31st. In 2017, all the soybeans must be harvested by May 5th when the next soybean free period starts. In previous years the soybeans had to be harvested by June 15th, but the date was backed up to May 5th to specifically prohibit the planting of safrinha soybeans in the state.

Other states in central Brazil are expected to adopt a similar planting and harvesting calendar in the next few years. Scientists especially want to eliminate a second crop of soybeans planted back-to-back in the same field in the same growing season. They feel this second crop of soybeans helps to propagate the spread of soybean rust from one growing season to another and there is limited financial gain from planting a second crop of soybeans instead of a second crop of corn for example.