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March 11, 2011

Soy Harvest in Mato Grosso do Sul Most Affected by Wet Weather

Heavy rains in late February and early March in central Brazil have delayed the soybean harvest and in some cases resulted in sprouted and moldy seeds and lower yields. The harvest delays seem most acute in northern Mato Grosso do Sul where there has been nearly constant wet weather for the last two weeks. The Agriculture and Livestock Federation of Mato Grosso do Sul (Famasul) estimates that the soybean harvest in northern Mato Grosso do Sul is 20% complete compared to 35% last year at this time.

When a few hours of sunshine offer a brief opportunity to resume harvesting, farmers have been forced to harvest their soybeans at moisture levels much higher than desired. There have been reports of soybeans being harvested at 30% moisture. These high moisture soybeans must be dried immediately to prevent spoilage. Soybeans need to be dried to 15.5% moisture for safe long-term storage. The drying process itself can also negatively impact the quality of the seed as well as drive up the cost of harvesting. Most farmers in Brazil do not have on-farm drying facilities so the high moisture soybeans must be dried by a commercial grain elevator or cooperative.

The delayed soybean harvest is also delaying the planting of the safrinha corn crop as well. The official planting window for the safrinha corn crop has already closed, but the federal government has extended the deadline for planting safrinha corn until March 20th. Prior to the onset of the wet weather and the subsequent delays, Conab estimated that the farmers in the state would plant 933,800 hectares of safrinha corn, which if realized would be 12.5% more than last year. If the wet weather persists it is unlikely that all the intended safrinha corn acres will be planted. Any corn planted in the middle of March runs a very high risk of lower yields.