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January 7, 2016

Early Soybean Harvest Underway in Select Areas of Brazil

In select areas of Brazil, farmers have started to harvest their early maturing soybeans. A few irrigated soybeans have been harvested in Mato Grosso and a few non-irrigated soybeans have been harvested in western Parana.

The weather in Brazil this growing season has been a tale of two extremes. Up until this week, the weather in central and northeastern Brazil has been hotter and dryer than normal with prolonged periods of no rainfall at all. Very beneficial rains have fallen this week across central Brazil to the relief of soybean farmers. In southern Brazil, the weather has been just the opposite with prolonged periods of torrential rainfall over the past several months. Both of these extremes are being blamed on the strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. The current El Nino seems to have peaked and it is now expected to slowly decline over the next several months.

In Mato Grosso the recent rains will help the medium and later maturing soybeans that are still in the process of setting pods and filling pods. The rains came too late for the early maturing or early planted soybeans that were filling pods under adverse conditions. The president of the Rural Syndicate in Sorriso, which is located in central Mato Grosso and is the largest soybean producing municipality in Brazil, feels that the average yields in the municipality will be down approximately 30% from estimates at the start of the growing season.

Most of the soybeans harvested thus far in Mato Grosso have been irrigated soybeans with an average yield is approximately 50 sacks per hectare (3,000 kg/ha or 43.5 bu/ac), which is less than the 55-60 sacks per hectare (48-52 bu/ac) expected for irrigated soybeans. The lower yields are being attributed to the hot and dry conditions during October, November, and December. Temperatures during those months were often above 100 degrees F and the center pivot irrigation could not keep up with the water demand of the crop. Mato Grosso is the leading soybean producing state in Brazil responsible for approximately 30% of Brazil's soybean production.

Parana is the second leading soybean producing state in Brazil responsible for approximately 18% of Brazil's soybean production. According to reports from Reuters, the Department of Rural Economics (Deral) indicated that the first harvest activity is underway in Pato Branco in southwestern Parana and in Cascavel in western Parana. Approximately 1,500 hectares have been harvested with an average yield of 53 sacks per hectare (3,180 kg/ha or 46 bu/ac).

It will be a little longer until the harvest gets fully underway because only 5% of the soybeans in Parana are maturing while 54% are filling pods and 41% are flowering or still in vegetative development. Deral rates the soybeans in Parana as 87% in good condition, 11% in average condition, and 2% in poor condition.

The average and poor ratings in the state are the result of the excess rainfall over the last several months. Farmers in the state are also concerned about the proliferation of soybean rust under the hot and humid conditions of the last several months. The state of Parana currently has 117 confirmed cases of soybean rust which represents 53% of all the cases confirmed in Brazil (220).

The 2015/16 growing season in Brazil is expected to be longer than normal this year due to the delayed start of the summer rains especially in northeastern Brazil. While farmers in Mato Grosso and Parana are starting to harvest some of their early maturing soybeans, farmers in northeastern Brazil are still trying to plant their soybeans. Farmers in the region have been planting off-and-on since October, but the soil moisture was never consistently high enough to continue planting until just this past week when heavier rains moved into the area.