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June 17, 2014

90-Day Soybean Free Period now in Effect in Most of Brazil

On Sunday, June 15th the 90-day soybean free period started in 11 Brazilian states and in Paraguay (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Distrito Federal, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, Tocantins, Maranhao, Bahia, and Para). During this period it is illegal to have any live volunteer soybean plants in the field, alongside of the field, along roadways, along railroads, around grain storage and transportation facilities, etc. This prohibition of live soybean plants will stay in effect until September 15th in most of the 11 states in Brazil that have adopted this soybean free period.

The purpose of the prohibition is to try and limit the spread of soybean rust spores from one growing season to the other. Generally, the rust spores can survive for only 60 days without a host plant and the goal is to eliminate as many host plants as possible. Soybean rust is the most destructive disease of soybeans and the disease is estimated to have costs Brazilian soybean producers US$ 25 billion since it was discovered in Brazil in the 2000/01 growing season.

The soybean free period started in Brazil in the mid-2000's and it is being credited with slowing down the early introduction of the disease in newly planted soybean fields. The prohibition is relatively new in Paraguay as producers in that country also try to limit the spread of the disease.

Teams of technicians will fan out across the main soybean states during the 90-day period looking for volunteer soybeans. If they find any live plants, the landowner will have 15 days to destroy the plants. If the plants are not eliminated within 15 days, the landowner could face a fine of more than R$ 10,000 (US$ 4,500). The only exception to the rule is given for research plots that are closely monitored and sprayed for the disease.

According to the Animal and Livestock Protection Division for the state of Parana, 78 landowners were notified of live soybean plants on their property in 2013, which was down from 130 in 2012.