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December 31, 2013

South American Crop Observations

Parana will not declare phytosanitary emergency - The Secretary of Agriculture in the state of Parana has decided to take a different approach to combat the corn earworm (Helicoverpa armigera) in the state. In contrast to other states in Brazil, the state of Parana has decided not to declare a state of "phytosanitary emergency" in order to use insecticides not currently registered in Brazil. Instead, the state has decided to use integrated pest management techniques to combat the pest including: crop rotations, residue management, and maintaining natural ermines of the corn earworm.

Another factor that was critical in the decision not to declare a phytosanitary emergency was the fact that the populations of the insect are lower in the state compared to other regions of Brazil. In 200 observation plots scattered throughout the state, scientists have been able to control the insect to levels below the economic threshold with just one application of insecticide that is readily available on the market. Scientists in the state advise farmers to monitor their fields on a weekly basis and to only apply insecticides when the population of the insect exceeds the economic threshold.

Early Soybean Harvest Begins in Mato Grosso - A few early maturing soybean fields in Brazil were harvested last week in Mato Grosso, Parana, and Mato Grosso do Sul with more ready for harvest this week. Some of the first fields harvested in Mato Grosso were probably by farmers who are planning to plant a second crop of cotton and to speed up the process even more, some will be applying descants to their soybeans this week to accelerate 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.

Soybean rust under control in Brazil - The number of confirmed cases of soybean rust in Brazil is lower than the average for the end of December. reported that the total number of confirmed cases of rust in Brazil now stands at 76. The state of Goias has the most at 36, followed by Sao Paulo at 18, Mato Grosso at 12, Parana at 7, and three states with one case each. The average number of cases over the past eight years for this point in December is 95. The highest number was 292 during the 2009/10 growing season and the fewest number was 16 in the 2011/12 growing season.

It's been very rainy in the state of Mato Grosso over the last several weeks and scientists are pleasantly surprised that only 12 cases of rust have been confirmed in the state. They attribute the low number of rust cases to farmers applying preventative fungicide applications every 15 to 20 days.

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil concerned about hot and dry conditions - Farmers in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul are becoming concerned due to several weeks of dry weather and elevated temperatures especially in the southern regions of the state. At this point, the farmers' biggest concern is the corn that was planted in October and is now pollinating. Approximately 55% of the corn in the state is pollinating or in early grain filling. Some of the late-planted double crop soybeans are also struggling to get established as well.

Recent showers across the state have helped to relieve some of the dryness and there are more showers in the forecast. Additional rainfall will be needed on a more consistent basis to recharge the depleted soil moisture.

Crops in Argentina impacted by adverse weather - The weather over the last several weeks in Argentina has turned hotter and dryer than normal. Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees were recorded across central Argentina last week and many areas of the country are experiencing one of the hottest summers in decades. In Argentina farmers are in the final stages of planting their 2013/14 crops with the soybean crop approximately 85% planted and the corn crop 75% planted.

The initial concern over the dry weather is for the corn crop in Argentina. The development of the corn crop is very spread out this growing season. Approximately 1/3 of the corn in Argentina has either already pollinated or will pollinate over the next week or two. Another 1/3 of the corn crop will pollinate during the month of January and the final 1/3 will pollinate in late February or early March. The earliest planted corn in Argentina is already well into grain filling and yet 25% of the corn has not even been planted! In order for this late planted corn to achieve its yield potential, the weather needs to be favorable later in the growing season accompanied by a later than normal first frost.

Farmers in Argentina are not as concerned about their soybean crop because the soybeans are still early in their development, but there have been reports of germination problems and spotty stands for some of the double crop soybeans. In Sao Luis province and in northern Santa Fe province some farmers are waiting for additional rainfall in order to continue planting their soybeans.

The weather in Argentina has improved marginally in recent days, but much more rainfall will be needed in the near term to avoid potential yield losses.