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March 2, 2012

Drought Results in Lower Soy Yields in Southwest Sao Paulo

Grain producers in southwestern Sao Paulo state have suffered from a lack of rainfall similar to what has occurred this growing season in neighboring Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul. With the soybean harvest starting in several weeks, producers in southwestern Sao Paulo are expecting their soybean yields to be much lower than the record yields achieved last growing season. Farmers in southeastern Sao Paulo have been more fortunate and they are expecting to harvest good corn and soybean crops.

In southwestern Sao Paulo, the rainfall since November has been below normal with periods of up to 20 days with no rainfall at all. The adverse weather is expected to result in a 15% reduction in soybean yields in the southwestern part of the state. Farmers in the region harvested a record soybean crop in 2010/11 with yields averaging in the range of 58 sacks per hectare or approximately 50 bu/ac. This year yields are expected to be down 10 sacks per hectare to 48 per hectare or approximately 41bu/ac.

In addition to dry weather, agronomists in the region are also reporting that nematodes are starting to become major pests in the region. These microscopic worms are a major soybean pest nearly everywhere the crop is grown. American agronomists consider nematodes the major "yield-robber" of U.S. soybean production.

In contrast, farmers in southeastern Sao Paul have continued to receive good rains throughout the growing season and farmers are expecting a repeat of the record yields obtained last year of 68 sacks per hectare of soybeans (approximately 59 bu/ac) and 200 sacks per hectare of corn (approximately 185 bu/ac).

In the state Goias (north of Sao Paulo), farmers are expecting to harvest a good crop of soybeans. In fact part of their problem this growing season was too much rain, which resulted in more than the normal amount of soybean rust. Farmers in Goias, who are not planning to plant a second crop of corn, generally planted later maturing soybeans to take full advantage of the entire growing season. These later maturing soybeans are ready to harvest in 125 days as compared to 95 days for the early maturing soybeans.

Farmers are hoping for better harvest weather compared to last year when it rained 30 straight days in late February and early March just as the soybean crop was maturing.