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December 26, 2013

Soy Harvest Begins in Mato Grosso, Dryness Worries in S. Brazil

A few early maturing soybean fields in Brazil will be harvested this week in Mato Grosso, Parana, and Mato Grosso do Sul with more ready for harvest next week. Farmers who are planning to plant a second crop of cotton will be applying descants to their soybeans this week to speed of the maturation process.

Descants cause the soybean leaves to dry quickly and drop from the plant and the stems to dry out very quickly as well. Once a descant is applied, soybeans are generally ready for harvest seven to ten days after application depending on the soybean variety. Farmers who use descants can generally harvest their soybeans ten days earlier than if a descant were not applied.

Advancing the soybean harvest ten days is important for those farmers wishing to plant a second crop of cotton. Full-season cotton in Mato Grosso is generally planted during the month of December and the shorter cycle safrinha cotton is planted during the month of January. The planting window for safrinha cotton generally closes by the end of January. Farmers do not want to delay planting their safrinha cotton this growing season because there are meteorologists in Brazil predicting an early end to the rainy season in March or April. If that were to occur, it will be critical for the cotton to be planted as early as possible in January.

Farmers in Mato Grosso who apply descants this week will be able to start harvesting their soybeans next week if the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, the forecast is calling for more rainfall next week in Mato Grosso which could delay the early start to the soybean harvest.

Rainfall in January is always a concern for soybean farmers in Brazil wishing to get an early start on their soybean harvest. Each time a soybean pod gets wet after it has reached harvest maturity there is a greater risk for molds to enter the pod and colonize the seeds. In a worst case scenario, this can result in small, shriveled and moldy soybeans. If the pods stay constantly wet for a number of days the seeds can actually start to germinate while still inside the pods.

While there will be a few soybean fields harvested this week and next week, the main harvest will begin in mid-January and there is expected to be a record large soybean harvest in Mato Grosso this year. Conab is estimating that the state will produce 26 million tons of soybeans which is 10% greater than in 2012/13. The combination of a record large crop and a concentrated harvest period is expected to result in logistical problems in the state such as a lack of trucks and a lack of storage space. The harvest is expected to be more concentrated this year due to delays in the start of planting several months ago.

In southern Brazil dry weather is starting to be a concern in western Parana, southern Mato Grosso do Sul, and Sao Paulo. Most of the soybeans in these regions are flowering and filling pods and the crop will need additional rainfall soon in order to maintain the current yield forecasts.

The soils in Rio Grande do Sul are also starting to dry out, but this is more of a concern for the full-season corn than it is for the soybeans. The soybeans in the state are still in vegetative development whereas the corn is pollinating and filling grain. Temperatures have been very warm in the state and the concern is that there may be pollination problems and kernel abortion. The recent weather in Rio Grande do Sul has been very similar to the hot and dry weather in Argentina that is starting to worry farmers there as well.