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July 28, 2011

Dry Weather Helping to Limit Live Soy Plants in Central Brazil

The 90-day soybean free period in central Brazil is one third complete (it started on June 15th) and in the state of Mato Grosso thus far, very few live soybean plants have been encountered. The prohibition of live soybean plants will stay in effect until September 15th when farmers may start planting their 2011/12 soybean crop.

Forty agronomist hired by the state department of agriculture have fanned out across the state in search of volunteer soybeans. They check along the edges of harvested soybean fields, along the roadways and in the vicinity of storage and processing facilities. If volunteer soybean plants are found, the property owner is notified and given a short period of time to eliminate the plants. If the situation is not corrected, fines can be levied against the offending landowner. Covering the entire state is a daunting task given the fact that Mato Grosso is six times bigger than the state of Illinois.

Central Brazil is in the midst of the dry season which runs from May to September. Other than a surprising rain that occurred in early June, most of central Brazil registered its last rain in early April. Since then it has been very hot and dry and no new rains are expected until sometime in September. The dry weather has helped to hold down the number of volunteer soybeans in the state that could have germinated from spilled seed.

There are approximately 5,000 soybean producers in the state of Mato Grosso and farmer cooperation with the 90-day soybean free period has been extremely good. The ban has been in place for five years and only two producers have been found to have deliberately planted soybeans during the prohibition period.

The ban was put in place to help control the spread of soybean rust from one planting season to the next. Soybean rust spores cannot survive for more than about 60 days without a host plant. The goal is to eliminate the diseases' favorite host plant, which is soybeans, long enough so that a majority of the spores die. Since the 90-day ban was put in place five years ago, the disease has been slow to move into newly planted soybean fields.

In addition to Mato Grosso, this prohibition is in effect in the states of Goias, Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Tocantins, Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Maranhao, and Bahia. The restrictions were put in place in 2006 in Mato Grosso and Goias and the following year for the other states.