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February 9, 2021

2020/21 Brazil Soybeans 4% Harvested, Slowest in Ten Years

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The weather last week was wet across much of Brazil especially in the central and northern areas. Starting late last week and over the weekend, southern Brazil received some welcomed dry weather. The forecast is calling for more rain across the northern and northeastern areas and less rainfall across southern Brazil. That is probably not good news for Mato Grosso, but it is good news for Goias, Minas Gerais, and northeastern Brazil where the rainfall is needed.

The 2020/21 soybeans in Brazil were 4% harvested late last week compared to 16% last year according to AgRural. This represents an advance of 2% for the week and this year continues to be the slowest harvest pace in 10 years. Given the current forecast, the harvest pace should pick up in southern Brazil, but it will remain very slow in northern Brazil.

One of the results of this wet weather will be episodes of poor quality seed. There are already reports of poor quality seed in Parana and Mato Grosso and I expect there will be more. It generally takes a lot of poor quality seed to reduce the overall production estimates, but I think we need to be cautious in our estimates.

Mato Grosso Soybeans - The soybeans in Mato Grosso are 11% harvested compared to 44.5% last year and 32.5% average according to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea). This represents an advance of 6.4% for the week. The most advanced harvest pace is in the northern part of the state where the soybeans are 24% harvested.

Imea is estimating the statewide soybean yield at 57.4 sacks per hectare (51.3 bu/ac) and the total soybean production in the state at 35.4 million tons, which would be up only 0.2% compared to last year.

Embrapa Soybeans issued a note late last week about the mysterious soybean disease that results in seeds rotting inside of otherwise normal looking pods. They have not yet identified the disease, but they think it is somehow related to high temperatures and moisture deficits during later pod filling. They do not think it is related to the more common Pod and Stem Blight (Phomopsis), which is associated with prolonged periods of wetness when the soybeans are mature and ready for harvest. Pod and Stem Blight can turn the pods and stems black and it results in the rotting of the pods and the seed inside.

Early Soybean Yields in Mato Grosso Continue to be Variable - Brazilian farmers in the municipality of Sorriso, which is located in central Mato Grosso, have harvested approximately 10% of their 2020/21 soybeans. Sorriso is the largest soybean municipality in Brazil responsible for more than 600,000 hectares of soybeans (1.48 million acres).

The President of the Rural Syndicate of Sorriso estimates the average yield thus far at 60 sacks per hectare (53.6 bu/ac), which he considers positive given the irregular weather during the first few months of the growing season. The early yields range from 37 sacks per hectare to 74 sacks (33 bu/ac to 66 bu/ac).

The municipality of Sorriso is also the site of a mysterious new soybean disease. The disease results in individual rotted seeds inside of full-sized green pods. The disease was first spotted in 2018 and it seems to be spreading, but scientists are not sure how widespread it has become. They have also not yet identified the cause of the disease or a fungicide that will control it.

In the municipality of Campos de Julio, which is located in western Mato Grosso, farmers have harvested 15% to 20% of their soybeans compared to 30% to 40% which is normal for this time of the year.

These early soybeans were the ones most impacted by dry weather in October and November. As a result, the yields are quite variable ranging from 40 sacks per hectare to 70 sacks (35.7 bu/ac to 62.5 bu/ac). Farmers are expecting higher yields when the harvest moves into the later maturing soybeans.

The current price of soybeans in the state is approximately R$ 150 per sack (approximately $12.85 per bushel), but most farmers in the state had forward contracted more than half of the anticipated soybean production at much lower prices.

Parana Soybeans - The soybean crop in Parana is 1% in vegetative development, 16% flowering, 67% filling pods, 15% maturing, and 0% harvested as of late last week according to the Department of Rural Economics (Deral). The weather late last week and over the weekend was dry, so farmers in the state have started to harvest some of their soybeans. Last week, the soybeans were rated 5% poor, 19% fair, and 77% good.

Municipality of Dr. Camargo - In the municipality of Dr. Camargo, which is located in northwestern Parana, the soybean planting was delayed 35 days due to dry weather and now wet weather is delaying the early harvest. The municipality received 14 inches of precipitation during January resulting in a lack of sunshine, excessive plant growth, yellowing leaves, dropped pods, and increased disease pressure.

Rio Grande do Sul Soybeans - Recent rains across the state have left farmers much more confident about their potential soybean yields. Emater reported last week that the soybeans were 30% in vegetative development, 44% flowering, 25% filling pods, and 1% maturing.