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March 19, 2013

Farmers Run Risk to Plant Safrinha Soybeans in Central Brazil

Some farmers in Brazil defied conventional wisdom and planted a safrinha crop of soybeans this growing season. Certainly, the vast majority of farmers opted for a second crop of corn, cotton, or grain sorghum, but we did see a hand full of fields that had been double cropped with soybeans. Agronomist in Brazil warned the farmers not to plant a second crop of back-to-back soybeans due to the potential buildup of diseases and pests, especially soybean rust. This year though, soybean rust was not a major concern (see later article) and a few farmers decided to run the risk of planting a second crop of soybeans.

The farmers that did plant a second crop of soybeans will need to have the soybeans completely harvested before June 15th when the prohibition of having any live soybean plants kicks in again in central Brazil.

The farmers that planted a second crop of soybeans claim that even with the potential for additional diseases, a second crop of soybeans is a good economic alternative. Reasons for their optimism includes the fact that soybeans are cheaper to plant, they are less susceptible to dry weather than corn, and the price of soybeans remains strong. Additionally, when these soybeans are ready for harvest, the transportation costs will be much lower than when the first soybean crop was harvested. Some farmers claim that the reduced transportation costs can more than offset the potential increased cost of disease control.

I think one of the reasons why farmers took the risk to plant a second crop of soybeans this year was the fact that soybean rust was not a significant problem this growing season. They will probably have to spray additional fungicides to control the disease, but if rust had been a raging problem at the time the first crop of soybeans were harvested, I don't think they have risked planting a second crop of soybeans.