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February 3, 2015

Soybean Looper Numbers Highest in 10 years in Southern Brazil

In addition to irregular rainfall and hot temperatures, soybean farmers in Brazil have another worry - increased populations of a leaf eating caterpillar called the soybean looper (Pseudoplusia includes). The numbers of soybean loopers have increased exponentially this growing season especially in the state of Parana. Agronomists in the state have indicated that these are the highest populations of the pest in the last ten years.

In order to safeguard their soybean yield potentials, farmers are doubling the number of insecticide applications. Three applications of insecticides were sufficient to control the pest last growing season, but some farmers in the state of Parana have already applied six applications with more in the offing. These additional applications could increase their cost of production by R$ 100 per hectare or more (US$ 16 per acre or more).

The demand for insecticide has been so great that some agricultural supply stores in Parana have run out of product. One manager of a cooperative store stated that he sold more insecticide in 10 days than during all of the last growing season. The increased insect feeding is not expected to have an impact on the soybean yields, but it will have a negative impact on margins that are already very tight.