Back
December 22, 2015

Soybeans in Mato Grosso under Moisture Stress

Mato Grosso is the largest soybean producing state in Brazil and some areas of the state have been more than 40 days without rain. The hot and dry weather has resulted in poor germination and low plant populations which has forced 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 Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) conducted a special survey of 400 agents late last week to assess the condition of the soybean crop in the state. Their survey revealed that the soybean crop in the state was rated as 32% good or excellent, 25% average, 23% poor, and 20% very poor. The hardest hit areas are the northeastern region where 70% of the soybeans are rated poor to very poor and the medium-north region where the crop is rated 53% poor to very poor. These two regions account for half of the soybeans planted in the state.

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 they received significant rainfall by the end of the month and the good rains continued into January.

The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) lowered their estimate of the state's soybean production in their latest weekly report published earlier last week. They are now estimating the statewide soybean yield at 50.8 sacks per hectare (3,048 kg/ha or 44 bu/ac), which is down from the August estimate of 52.6 sacks per hectare (3,156 kg/ha or 45.7 bu/ac). Last year's yield was 52.2 sacks per hectare (3,136 kg/ha or 45.4 bu/ac). They also lowered the state's soybean production by 1.0 million tons to 28.3 million. They reported that the statewide soybean yield might be the lowest since the 2012/13 growing season.

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. Unfortunately, the situation has gotten worse since last week.

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.

Here is a quick tour around the state of Mato Grosso from various municipalities and what is being reported about the 2015/16 soybean crop. The municipalities are listed in order generally from north to south in the state. Reminder, Mato Grosso is as big as the Midwest, so some of these municipalities are quite far apart.

Sinop, which is located in northern Mato Grosso

  • Some soybeans are dying from hot and dry conditions, earlier planted soybeans suffering the most, irreversible yield losses.
  • Some areas more than 40 days without rain and counting.
  • From September 15 to December 17 the municipality received an average of 264 mm of rainfall (10.5 inches). During the same period in 2013 they received 704 mm (28.1 inches).
  • Even if rains return, worst fields have lost 70% of their yield potential.
  • Some farmers already calling their crop insurance agent to file a claim (crop insurance is estimated to cover less than 15% of Brazil's crops).
  • Local officials considering declaring a state of emergency in order to get help from the state and federal governments.

Ipiranga do Norte, which is located in northern Mato Grosso

  • Some soybean fields replanted twice.
  • In the worst areas the soybeans are rated 80% poor to very poor.
  • Early planted soybeans hurt the most.
  • Might tear up soybeans to plant corn instead.
  • 60% of the soybeans in the municipality forward contracted and now farmers worried about fulfilling their contracts.

Campo Novo do Parecis, which is located in west-central Mato Grosso

  • Soybeans dying on sandier soils.
  • Soybean development delayed, some fields were replanted.
  • Earlier planted soybeans hurt the most.
  • Last soybeans planted end of November or early December, still in vegetative development.

Sorriso, which is located in central Mato Grosso

  • This is the largest soybean producing municipality in Brazil.
  • Early soybeans have few pods, some pods empty, plants dying.
  • Losses on early maturing soybeans are irreversible, early maturing soybeans will not recuperate even with rains going forward.
  • Soybean crop needs 40 mm of rainfall per week (1.6 inches), generally has only received 30% of what is needed.
  • Areas that yielded 50-60 sacks per hectare last year (43.5 to 52.2 bu/ac) may not even yield 20 sacks per hectare this year (17.5 bu/ac).
  • Soybean production will not cover costs, putting hope on safrinha corn to cover soybean losses.
  • At least half of the anticipated soybean crop forward contracted and farmers are worried that they will not be able to fulfill their contracts.
  • Local officials considering declaring state of emergency

Novo Mutum, which is located in central Mato Grosso

  • Long time agronomist commented that this is the worst weather in memory (30 years in Mato Grosso).
  • Early soybeans are suffering irreversible losses.
  • Considering tearing up soybeans to plant safrinha corn or planting no-till corn into the existing soybeans.
  • Soybeans planted in early October will start to be harvested on January 10.
  • Local officials considering declaring a state of emergency.