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June 26, 2015

Parana may Follow M. Grosso in Limiting Safrinha Soy Production

Farmers in the state of Parana had to scramble last week to insure that all their safrinha soybeans were harvested by the start of the soybean-free period on June 15th. After that date, no live soybeans are allowed either in the field, alongside the fields, along roadways, or around storage and transportation facilities until September 15th. If any volunteer soybeans are found, the landowner will be notified and given a ten day period to eliminate the plants. If the plants are not eliminated, the landowner could face fines. The goal of the program in Brazil is to limit the spread of soybean rust and other pests from one growing season to the next.

During the 2014/15 growing season farmers in Parana planted 132,000 hectares of safrinha soybeans, which was an increase of 21% compared to a year earlier. Farmers in Mato Grosso planted an estimated 120,000 hectares of safrinha soybeans in 2014/15. The amount of safrinha soybean production has increased significantly during the last two growing seasons because Brazilian farmers view soybeans as a more profitable alternative compared to safrinha corn production. This in turn, has alarmed scientists who view planting two crops of soybeans back-to-back as a very bad idea.

The number of acres planted to safrinha crops in Brazil, either to soybeans or corn, has been hard to monitor by Brazilian agencies. That could be a reason why the size of the Brazilian soybean and corn crops have been increasing very late in the growing season for the last two years.

In the state of Mato Grosso, the planting of safrinha soybeans will be prohibited starting with the 2015/16 growing season. In the state, the soybean-free period has been extended to 138 days starting on May 1st and ending on September 15th. The old starting date, which had been in effect for a number of years, had been June 15th.

Seed producers augured against the earlier starting date citing the need to increase their seed supply by planting a safrinha soybean crop. The new rules in Mato Grosso expressly prohibit the planting of a second crop of soybeans during the same growing season even though it would still be possible to "squeeze in" two early maturing soybean crops during the same growing season.

With Mato Grosso expanding the soybean-free period to 138 days, there is a debate in Parana if their current 92 day soybean-free period is sufficient. Agricultural scientists in Parana would like to eliminate safrinha soybean production or at least limit it to certain regions of the state. The debate on the topic is expected to intensify over the next two months and any change in the starting date of the soybean-free period in 2016 would need to be finalized quickly in order for farmers to plan for their 2015/16 crops.