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August 29, 2012

Early Corn Planting Underway in South America

Brazil weather - Longer range forecasts are starting to be released in Brazil and according to Somar Meteorologia, the first rains of the new growing season should arrive in Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul during the second half of September. Once the rains start in central Brazil, Somar is forecasting that the rains will be good until about the middle of February. Farmers in Mato Grosso can start planting soybeans starting on September 15, so there is the possibility that the start of planting in the state might be delayed a couple of weeks.

In the state of Parana, they are forecasting that there will be enough soil moisture for farmers to start planting their soybeans as soon as the 90-day soybean free period ends on September 21st. In northeastern Brazil, the forecast is not as favorable. Somar is expecting a dryer than normal spring planting season in the states of Maranhao, Piaui, Tocantins, and Bahia. While an El Nino generally results in heavier than normal rains in southern Brazil, the rainfall has a difficult time making it into northeastern Brazil.

On a somewhat ominous note for the safrinha corn crop, Somar is forecasting that the rainy season may end earlier than normal in the center-west region of Brazil. They feel that the rains will start to taper off as soon as February, which would be bad news for the safrinha corn crop in Mato Grosso. The safrinha corn crop in the state is planted in January and February and it is harvested in June and July. If the rains end in February, which would be earlier than normal, then it would be very dry during the grain filling period. The forecast for an early end to the rainy season could take on even more importance if the start of the soybean planting is delayed for several weeks.

Brazil corn - Farmers in southern Brazil are starting to plant some of their early full-season corn. They are anxious to plant their corn as quickly as possible because they feel there will be a premium in the market for the first harvested corn, but early planting progress has been slow due to cool temperatures. The planting pace should pick up later this week as temperatures warm. In parts of Rio Grande do Sul, as much as 10% of the 2012/13 corn acreage has been planted.

Agronomists in Rio Grande do Sul feel that the corn crop should all be planted by the end of September. Corn acreage in the state is expected to decline 15% or more as farmers opt for additional soybean production.

Brazil soybeans - The first soybeans planted in Brazil are generally planted in central Mato Grosso, but the farmers are not allowed to start planting until September 15, which is the end of the 90-day soybean free period. If there is enough soil moisture prior to that date, then farmers will start planting on that date.

A cold front moved into the state over the weekend bringing some temporary relief from the hot and dry conditions. By the end of the week, temperatures in northern Mato Grosso are expected to be 100 degrees or hotter. There have not been any rains in Mato Grosso since the end of June and there is no significant rain in the near term forecast. The cold front moving up from southern Brazil could provoke a few widely scattered light showers, but they will not be heavy enough to improve the soil moisture. Temperatures have been running above normal in Mato Grosso (mid 90s to low 100s) and the soil moisture is very short. Generally farmers would like to see several showers totaling two or three inches before they start to plant their soybeans.

It is very risky to start planting soybeans right after the first shower because there could be an interval of several weeks before they receive additional moisture. In between these showers, it is going to be very hot, easily 100 degrees or hotter, and the small soybean seedlings could die from the hot and dry conditions, resulting in replanting. Therefore, farmers would like to plant their soybeans only after they are assured there is enough soil moisture to sustain the crop through early seedling development.

This growing season, the farmers in Mato Grosso are going to plant their soybeans as quickly as possible because of the high soybean prices and the anticipated good premium that is expected to be in the market for the first deliverable soybeans.

If the soybean planting is delayed several weeks due to a late arrival of the rains, it really does not impact the yield potential of the soybeans, but it could still make the market very nervous. If the soybean planting is delayed in Brazil by several weeks, then the start of Brazil's soybean exports would also be delayed as well. That would put additional pressure on an already small U.S. soybean crop to meet the world's soybean needs until the new crop in Brazil becomes available.

Additionally, a delayed soybean planting would also mean a delay in planting the safrinha corn which could then impact the yield poetical of the corn crop. The later the safrinha corn is planted in central Brazil, the greater the risk that the crop could encounter dry weather before the grain filling process is complete. More and more of Brazil's total corn crop is now planted after the soybeans are harvested and the yield potential of that crop depends to a large degree on when it is planted. The world will also need Brazil's corn exports, so a delay in planting the safrinha corn crop could help support the corn market.

Argentina corn and soybeansI - It's been a very rainy August in Argentina and up until this point, the rains have been beneficial for the 2012/13 crops in Argentina. The soils in Argentina have a very good water holding capacity and the soil moisture "tank" is going to be full going into the growing season. This is good news for the crops in Argentina that rely on that subsoil moisture later in the summer. If it would continue to be wetter than normal into September and October, it could result in planting delays, but for now, I would consider the rainfall a benefit.