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December 2, 2014

Restrictions on Safrinha Soy may be modified for Seed Producers

The State of Mato Grosso has decided to extend the period of time during which soybean production would be prohibited in the state. Farm organizations in the state are contesting the new regulations because they feel that it will harm farmers who want to produce their own seed during the prohibition period.

The Plant Protection Commission for the State of Mato Grosso voted to extend the soybean free period in the state from its original 90 days to 138 days. The new period will start on May 1st instead of June 15th and it will end on September 15th (same as before). The commission and its director Wanderley Dias Guerra, argued that the extension was needed in order to better control the spread of soybean rust from one growing season to the next.

The Mato Grosso Corn and Soybean Producers Association (Aprosoja-MT) believes that a blanket prohibition would hurt its members who want to produce seed during that period. They contend that some of their members prefer to produce their own seed instead of relying on the sometime poor quality seed available in the marketplace.

At a recent Soybean Forum held in the city of Primavera do Leste in southeastern Mato Grosso, Mr. Guerra acknowledged that seed producers have a legitimate concern. He further stated that there may be a possibility of modifying the regulations in order to accommodate the seed producers. That accommodation may take the form of restricting seed production to certain regions of the state where the crop can be more easily monitored for soybean rust or to have the seed fields planted in February or March when there is less occurrence of soybean rust.

Normally, the soybean harvest in Mato Grosso ends in March and any soybeans spilled during the harvest process germinates shortly thereafter, but subsequently dies during the dry season. The soybean rust spores then have a reduced chance of surviving from one growing season to the next due to a lack of host plants.

In the case of safrinha soybeans, they are not harvested until late May or early June and the soybeans spilled during the safrinha harvest may be better able to survive the dry season due to the shorter period of time between growing seasons. That was true this past dry season (May to September) when periodic rains kept some of the volunteer soybeans alive during the entire dry season. It was these volunteer soybeans that allowed the rust spores to survive.

Even with these potential modifications, the goal of the new extended period remains the same, the prevention of large scale commercial safrinha soybean production in the state. During the 2013/14 growing season there were an estimated 120,000 hectares of safrinha soybeans produced in the state. Some farmers opted to plant soybeans instead of corn for their second crop after the first soybean crop was harvested due to the much better price of soybeans as compared to corn. Yields of the safrinha soybeans in 2013/14 were generally disappointing in the range of approximately 6 bu/ac to 30 bu/ac.

Part of the recent Soybean Forum was also directed at how to better manage the disease. The scientists emphasized the need for farmers to pay attention to the types of fungicides used to combat the disease. They want farmers to use a variety of fungicides with different modes of action in order to reduce the possibility of the disease developing resistance to the fungicides.