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March 3, 2011

Wet Conditions Causing Quality Concerns in Brazilian Soybeans

Many parts of the Brazilian soybean belt continue to be hit by heavy rainfall. The problem is probably more acute in Mato Grosso where the soybean crop is more advanced, but it is also a problem in other states such as Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana as well as in eastern Brazil. Heavy rainfall during February is not uncommon in central Brazil, but rainfall amounts this February have been exceptionally heavy. Additionally, the nearly constant overcast conditions have not allowed farmers an expanded window of favorable harvest weather.

Farmers are reporting that they can harvest only a few hours per day and when they can harvest, they are being forced to harvest soybeans at a very high moisture content, some as high as 30% moisture. Harvesting soybeans at that high of moisture content can cause higher than normal harvest losses. These high moisture soybeans must also be dried, which can cause additional quality concerns as well as driving up the costs. In locations in western Mato Grosso such as Sapezal and Campos de Julio, farmers are reporting shriveled and moldy soybeans, and in some extreme cases, losses as high as 30%.

Fields where descants have been used are especially at risk. Once the descant has been applied, the soybean plant dries down very quickly allowing for harvest to begin seven to ten days after application provided the weather cooperates. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating this year and some soybean fields have been standing in the wet weather several weeks after which they should have been harvested.

Not only are yields being affected, the grain companies are paying less for the damaged soybeans as well as charging extra for the necessary drying of the crop. These high moisture soybeans must be dried to 13% moisture before they are put into storage or the quality situation can get even worse. Farmers in the state are also complaining that they are being discounted more than the law allows.