January 12, 2011

Embrapa Developing Extra-Early Soy Varieties for Cerrado Region

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

Brazilian scientists from Embrapa continue to expand their research efforts on developing extra-early soybean varieties that mature 30% faster than normal soybean varieties. These new varieties, which mature in 90 to 100 days, would be planted in the cerrado regions of central Brazil where farmers want to plant two crops in the same field during the same growing season. It is logical to put extra emphasis on developing soybean varieties for central Brazil because 60% of Brazil's soybean production is in the cerrado regions of central Brazil. This is also the region where the fastest soybean expansion is occurring.

The biggest advantage of these extra-early soybean varieties is the fact that farmers can plant a second crop of corn or cotton, which is called the safrinha crop, after the soybeans are harvested. If these extra-early maturing soybeans are planted during the second half of September, they will generally be harvested during the first half of January thus allowing enough time for a second crop of cotton or corn. The planting window for safrinha cotton in central Brazil is generally open until the end of January and in the case of safrinha corn, it is open until approximately February 20th.

There are also financial incentives to plant these early maturing soybeans. The first soybeans harvested in Brazil generally command a premium from processors who are anxious to get the operations up and running. Having soybeans in the field for a shorter period of time also minimizes the crop's exposure to insect and disease attacks thus economizing on insecticides and fungicides. Having the ability to plant two crops in one year also optimizes the farmer's use of machinery and labor which he can spread over two crops instead of one.

The cost of growing soybeans in central Brazil is much higher than in southern Brazil due to the high cost of transportation and the fact that additional fertilizers are needed to grow soybeans in central Brazil. Without the opportunity to grow a second crop of corn or cotton, soybean farmers in central Brazil would be less competitive compared to their counterparts in southern Brazil or in the U.S.