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March 5, 2015

Record Breaking Soybean Crop Expected in Rio Grande do Sul

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil are expecting to harvest a record breaking soybean crop this year. While much of Brazil suffered under hot and dry weather during the month of January, the weather in Rio Grande do Sul was nearly ideal during the growing season raising expectations for record yields.

Periods of dry weather during the summer growing season are a common occurrence in the state. During the 2013/14 growing season for example, the state went 25 days without rain during critical periods of the soybean development. That was certainly not the case this year. Starting in mid-December through January and February, much of the state received nearly daily rainfall resulting in ideal growing conditions. During the month of January, the state averaged 12 inches of precipitation, which was the most in 30 years.

As a result, many soybean farmers in the state are expecting to harvest a record soybean crop. Harvesting of the early maturing soybeans is under way and the harvest pace is expected to accelerate over the next 7-10 days as more soybeans mature. Yields of some of the early maturing soybeans are as high as 75 sacks per hectare (4,500 kg/ha or 65 bu/ac) compared to last year's statewide yield of 2,800 kg/ha or 40.6 bu/ac. Many soybean producers are reporting that is the best soybean crop they have ever produced.

The wet weather resulted in the highest number of soybean rust cases of any state in Brazil. The disease was generally under control until the wet weather moved in during the month of January. The nearly constant wet weather delayed the applications of fungicides and resulted in some of the chemicals being washed off. In a normal year, farmers in the state generally apply 2-3 fungicide applications, but this year, many farmers applied 3-5 applications. Those that applied the higher amounts are reporting a very good yield potential while those that tried to save money by cutting back on the number of applications are expecting their soybeans to yield 3-5 bushels per acre less than earlier anticipated.

Farmers would now like to see dryer weather as the harvest approaches. Consistent hot and wet weather during harvest can result in poor seed quality and possibly even lower yields.

The full-season corn crop in the state has also benefited from the nearly ideal conditions this growing season. The full-season corn in the state is 50% harvested and yields are reported to be variable, but above initial expectations.