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February 5, 2015

Dryness in Brazil Encourages Fast Soy Harvest, Slow Corn Planting

Dryer than normal weather across much of central Brazil during the month of January encouraged a faster than anticipated early harvesting of the 2014/15 soybean crop. At the end of December, the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) had estimated that 5.6% of the soybeans in the state would be harvested by the end of January. In reality, nearly double that amount had been harvested by the end of January. The state of Mato Grosso is the largest soybean producing state in Brazil responsible for approximately 30% of Brazil's soybean production.

The soybean harvest is also advancing quickly in the state of Parana which is the second leading soybean producing state in Brazil. The soybean harvest in Parana is approximately 10% complete, which is twice the harvest pace of last year.

The dryer weather may have stimulated more rapid soybean harvest in Mato Grosso, but it slowed down some of the initial planting of the safrinha corn. Normally, farmers in Mato Grosso plant their second crop of corn as soon as possible after the soybeans are harvested in order to take advantage of good soil moisture, but that was not the case this year in central Mato Grosso.

Some farmers in central Mato Grosso held off planting their safrinha corn for several weeks due to a lack of soil moisture in mid-January. Farmers kept their planters parked because they did not want to risk planting their corn when there was not sufficient soil moisture to guarantee germination and stand establishment.

Dry weather in mid-January in Mato Grosso is quite unusual because January is considered the peak of the rainy season. Usually the problem in January is too much rainfall not too little as was the case this year. The three municipalities in central Mato Grosso that plant the most safrinha corn are Sorriso, Lucas do Rio Verde, and Nova Mutum.

The safrinha corn in Mato Grosso is approximately 10% planted and in Parana the Department of Rural Economics (DERAL) estimates that 11% of the crop was planted as of January 29th. Farmers in Parana have forward contracted 8% of their anticipated 2014/15 corn production, but they still have not sold approximately 33% of last year's corn crop.

A recent pick up in the rains is beneficial, but they have not been heavy enough, at least not yet, to fully recharge the soil moisture across much of central Brazil. In many regions the soil moisture is below 60% of capacity which is considered necessary for normal crop development. The driest areas are northeastern Brazil and the states of Goias, Minas Gerais and localized regions of Sao Paulo, Parana, and east-central Mato Grosso.