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December 17, 2015

Hot and Dry Weather Impacting Soybean Production in Mato Grosso

Farmers in central Mato Grosso are becoming more concerned for their soybean crop that continues to suffer from hot and dry conditions. The rains thus far this growing season have been light in volume and very irregular. In some of the driest areas, it has been 30 days since the last significant rainfall. At the same time, the temperatures have been very hot due to lack of cloud cover and rainfall. These conditions are very unusual for central Brazil as it approaches that is usually the peak of the rainy season. Meteorologists in Brazil are attributing the adverse weather to the strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

The hot and dry weather has resulted in poor germination and low plant populations forcing some farmers to replant their soybeans. In central Mato Grosso, it is estimated that as much as 10% of the soybeans have been replanted and in a few cases, the soybeans have been replanted two times.

The drought conditions have impacted the earlier planted soybeans the most. The soybeans planted in October are very short in stature with few nodes and few pods. The earlier planted soybeans are currently trying to fill pods and they are too advanced in their development to recuperate even if rainfall would increase in the coming weeks. The soybeans planted at the end of November or in early December are still in vegetative development and could recuperate if the forecasted rains for later this month would indeed develop.

Officials from the Soybean and Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja) estimate that in the hardest hit areas of the state, 80% of the soybeans are rated in poor to very poor condition and 20% of the soybeans are rated in good to very good condition. In the worst areas, they estimate that the soybean yield may have been reduced by as much as 60% due to the hot and dry conditions.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) lowered their estimate of the state's soybean production in their latest weekly report published earlier this week. They are now estimating the statewide soybean yield at 50.8 sacks per hectare (3,048 kg/ha or 44 bu/ac). They also lowered the state's soybean production by one million tons to 28.3 million. They reported that the statewide soybean yield might be the lowest since the 2012/13 growing season.

The weather during January and February will be critical for the later planted soybeans that will be filling pods during that period. Continued hot and dry conditions during the next two months could result in even lower production.

Farmers in the state are also worried about an infestation of white flies that tend to be more problematic during dry weather. On the positive side, there has not yet been any cases of soybean rust reported in commercial soybean fields in the state of Mato Grosso. Mato Grosso was expected to produce approximately 30% of Brazil 2015/16 soybean crop.