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January 22, 2016

Wet Weather Slows Soy Harvest in Mato Grosso, Poor Seed Quality

Soybean producers in Mato Grosso have had one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory. Hot and dry conditions during November and December impacted their soybean crop at the most critical time in the crop cycle when the soybeans were setting and filling pods. The result is diminished yield potentials for the early maturing soybeans. Now as the early maturing soybeans are ready for harvest, persistent wet weather since early January has kept farmers from harvesting their crop.

In the municipality of Campo Verde, which is located in southeastern Mato Grosso, 10% of the soybeans have been harvested, but another 20% of the crop has been ready for harvest for at least 15 days, but wet weather has kept the combines out of the fields. The wet weather has already negatively impacted the seed quality and the longer it stays wet, the worst the situation will become.

Any time that mature soybeans are exposed to prolonged periods of wet weather, the quality of the crop can deteriorate quickly, especially if the temperatures are hot like they are in Mato Grosso. Various fungal organisms can enter the pods and colonize the seed resulting in shrunken, moldy, and light weight soybeans. Under extremely wet conditions, the seed can actually germinate while still in the pod resulting in a complete loss.

Canal Rural is reporting that some farmers in Campo Verde are may have already lost 12-15% of the potential soybean yield of their early maturing soybeans due to the wet conditions and that the losses will continue to mount if the weather stays wet. Farmers who had expected to harvest 60 sacks per hectare (3,600 kg/ha or 52 bu/ac) are reporting yields of 53 sacks per hectare (3,180 kg/ha or 46 bu/ac).

Wet weather at harvest is always a potential problem in Mato Grosso and that is why farmers plant soybeans of different maturities. They do not want to run the risk of having all their crop at critical periods of development at the same time. Generally, they may plant one-third early maturing, one-third medium maturing, and one-third late maturing. Planting all the same maturity soybean varieties would also pose a huge risk at harvest, just like they are experiencing this year.

As long as the wet weather persists, it not only impacts the current soybean crop, it also impacts the second crop farmers want to plant after the soybeans are harvested. In this region of Mato Grosso, most of the first crop of soybeans are followed by either a second crop of corn or a second crop of cotton.