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November 1, 2012

Availability of Seed in Brazil OK, but Fertilizers in Short Supply

As soybean farmers in Brazil are in the midst of planting a record large acreage of soybeans, there have been some concerns if there would be enough seed and fertilizer available to plant all the intended acres. The seed supply should not be a problem and soybean farmers in Brazil will be able to purchase enough seed to plant their intended acres, but they may not get the varieties they wanted or the quality of seed they preferred. As far as fertilizer is concerned, there continues to be delays in getting the needed fertilizers in position for the farmers.

Seed producers in southern Brazil struggled last growing season to produce high quality seed due to the severe drought that afflicted southern Brazil. According to the Brazilian Association of Seed Producers (Abrasem) and the Parana Association of Seed Producers (Apasem), there will be enough seed to plant all the intended acres, but the quality of the seed will be inferior to prior years and farmers may have to settle for their second or third choice of varieties.

The president of Abrasem, Narciso Barison Neto, estimates that 50% of the seed sold in Rio Grande do Sul this growing season and 40% of the seed sold in Parana will not be certified seed. For Brazil as a whole, he estimates that 25% of the soybean seed will not be certified this growing season. These figures are higher than in a normal year due to the adverse weather last growing season.

If the seed is certified, it means that the germination and the vigor of the seed meets or exceeds the standards established by the state. If the seed is not certified, then the farmers run the risk that the germination may be sub-par and the vigor of the seed may be less than desirable. If the weather during the growing season is ideal, then the yield potential between certified soybean seed and non-certified seed will probably be about the same. If there is adverse weather during the growing season especially at planting, then the certified seed will probably yield higher than the non-certified seed.

The demand for early maturing soybean varieties has exceeded the available supplies. The trend in recent years has been for farmers to plant early maturing soybean varieties so they can take advantage of strong corn prices and plant a second crop of corn after the soybeans are harvested. For anyone who delayed in purchasing their soybean seed, they will probably no longer be able to purchase early maturing varieties.

Getting needed fertilizer supplies delivered to farmers in the Brazilian interior continues to a problem. Imported fertilizers intended for use in this year's planting are being held up at the Port of Paranagua caught up in an ongoing labor dispute between federal inspectors and then government. Even after the fertilizers are offloaded, a lack of available trucks due to new regulations governing how many hours a driver can work in a 24-hour period is also slowing down the delivery.

There are vessels at the Port of Paranagua that have been waiting for up to 70 days to get permission to berth and unload their cargo of fertilizers. There are currently approximately 50 vessels waiting in the Paranagua harbor and about half are loaded with fertilizers waiting to unload.