February 15, 2012

Soybean Harvest in Mato Grosso 25% Complete

Farmers in Mato Grosso have harvested approximately 25% of the 6.7 million hectares of soybeans planted in the state. Nationwide, the soybean harvest in Brazil is approximately 12-13% complete. Early yields in Mato Grosso indicate a very good crop, but probably not better than the record yields achieved last growing season. Conab is estimating that the statewide soybean yield will be 3,190 kg/ha or 46.2 bu/ac, which is the same yield as last year, but several problems may result in a lower yield than last year.

One of the problems this year has been the increased presence of soybean rust in the state. Of the 215 confirmed cases of rust in Brazil, 82 are in Mato Grosso and 87 are in the neighboring state of Goias. The disease has increased the cost of production this year by approximately 10% by requiring more fungicide applications. Normally, two applications of fungicides are needed to control the disease, but this year some farmers are applying four applications. The disease is present in nearly every soybean field in the state.

For the last two growing season, it appeared that the disease had been well controlled. This led to a false sense of security on the part of the farmers and in many cases this growing season; they waited for the disease to appear before they took any action. So, instead of applying a preventative treatment, they now have to apply multiple curative treatments.

Another concern is the lack of sunshine during the month of January when it rained nearly every day. The hot and humid conditions were ideal for the spread of rust as well as other diseases such as white mold and the reduced amount of sunlight lowered the photosynethic activity of the crop.