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January 19, 2011

Wet Weather Delays Soy Harvest and Safrinha Cotton Planting in Mato Grosso

In its first survey of cotton planting progress, the Mato Grosso Institute of Agriculture Economics (Imea) announced that 68% of the estimated 595,000 hectares of cotton in Mato Grosso have been planted. The full season cotton in the state is 98% planted and farmers are now trying to plant the safrinha cotton.

The safrinha cotton is planted after the early maturing soybeans are harvested, but recent wet weather has impeded the soybean harvest. Even in the areas where some of the soybeans have been harvested, the wet conditions have kept the cotton planters out of the field. Generally, the planting window for safrinha cotton stays open until the end of January which is only two weeks away so cotton farmers are getting a little nervous with approximately 190,000 hectares of safrinha cotton yet to plant.

The early soybean harvest in Mato Grosso is getting off to a slow start due to the wet weather. Imea reported that only 0.7% of the state's soybeans have been harvested compared to 2.5% last year at this time. Approximately 40,000 hectares of early maturing soybeans that were planted at the end of September or early October have been harvested. If the harvest pace had progressed at the same rate as last year, more than 150,000 hectares would be harvested by now.

Heavy rains at this time of the year is always a possibility and that is why farmers in the state only plant a small portion of their soybean acreage to extra-early or early maturing soybeans. The risk is too great to have all your soybeans maturing during what could be the peak of the rainy season. During the last growing season, many soybean fields in central Mato Grosso were harvested several weeks after the crop had matured. The constant wet weather kept the combines out of the field for an extended period of time.

Conab is estimating the state's soybean production at 19.5 million tons, which if verified, would be 3.9% more than in 2009/10. Conab is also estimating that the soybean acreage in the state increased 2.4% from 6.22 million hectares in 2009/10 to 6.37 million hectares in 2010/11. If these estimates turn out to be correct, it will be the best year for soybean production in Mato Grosso since the crop was introduced into the state 35 years ago.