December 23, 2014
Peak of Soy Harvest in Mato Grosso will be Feb 15th to March 7th
The start of the 2014/15 soybean planting in Mato Grosso was delayed by dry weather in October and that delay in planting means that the start of the soybean harvest in Mato Grosso will be delayed as well. According to estimates from the Mato Grosso Institute of Agriculture Economics (Imea), farmers in Mato Grosso will harvest 5.9% of their 2014/15 soybean crop by the end of January 2015 (1.6 million tons), which will be slower than average. Imea made the assessment based on the percentages of the crop planted to early, medium, and late maturing soybean varieties and the dates when the soybeans were planted.
Imea estimates that the peak of the soybean harvest in Mato Grosso will occur from February 15th until March 7th during which farmers should harvest 66% of their 2014/15 soybean crop. This harvest timetable is based on average weather conditions and any prolonged periods of wet weather could delay the soybean harvest even more.
The meteorological agency Somar is predicting above normal rainfall for much of Mato Grosso during the month of February, which could be both good and bad for the soybean crop. Abundant moisture during pod filling is good for soybean yields, but excessive moisture could also result in more soybean rust and it could disrupt the harvest as well.
One of the ways farmers try to avoid these harvest disruptions is by applying a descant to the soybeans that speeds up the maturity process. If a descant is applied after the soybean leaves have started to turn yellow, the leaves dry up quickly and drop from the plant. The stems and pods also dry out quickly and the field is ready for harvest in 7-10 days after the descant has been applied. By using a descant, the soybean harvest can be advanced by several weeks, but the timing of the descant application can be tricky.
Once a descant is applied, the field will be ready for harvest in 7-10 days. If the harvest-ready field encounters a period of wet weather that prevents timely harvesting, the result can be moldy soybeans, soybeans sprouted in the pods, and reduced yields.
The timing of the soybean harvest in Mato Grosso is also important as far as soybean exports from Brazil are concerned. Most of the soybeans produced in Mato Grosso will be exported and if the prediction from Imea is correct, then the farmers in Mato Grosso will harvest only 1.6 million tons of soybeans by the end of January 2015.
The first soybeans harvested in Brazil usually go to Brazilian processors who are willing to pay a premium for soybeans so that they can get their operations up and running with new crop soybeans. After the needs of the processors are met, then the soybeans start flowing to the Brazilian ports. In January of 2014, the first vessel loaded with new crop soybeans left the Brazilian port on the last day of January. As it appears right now, there will not be any new crop soybeans exported from Brazil until probably sometime during the first half of February.
Farmers in Mato Grosso have taken advantage of the improved soybean prices and weaker Brazilian currency to forward contract approximately 34% of their anticipated 2014/15 soybean production.