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November 4, 2014

Brazilian Farmers Planting Soybeans at Half the Average Pace

With the soil moisture improving across much of Brazil, most farmers are actively plating their 2014/15 soybean crop. The rainfall in Mato Grosso has been adequate in some areas and lighter than desired in other areas. The rainfall though has been lighter as you move east into states like Goias, Bahia, Sao Paulo, and Minas Gerais. In southern Brazil the soil moisture remains very favorable with too much rain in fact in parts of Rio Grande do Sul. The forecast looks favorable for more rainfall over the next two weeks in the more western areas of Brazil, but still dryer than desired for the more eastern areas.

Nationwide, the Brazilian soybean crop is approximately 25% planted which continues to be about half the average pace. Last year at this time approximately 46% of the soybeans were planted and the five-year average is 48%.

Mato Grosso - In this largest soybean producing state (Mato Grosso produces approximately 30.7% of Brazil's total soybean crop) farmers are making rapid planting progress and the soybean planting is approximately 45% complete compared to 75% last year at this time. Farmers planted 20% of the state's soybeans last week thanks to GPS technology which allowed planting to progress 24-7, if the conditions permitted. After worrying about dry conditions for several weeks, some regions of the state have actually received too much rain keeping planters out of the field.

According to the administrative director of the Agriculture and Livestock Federation of Mato Grosso (Famato), farmers in the state had planted 3.5 million hectares of soybeans by the end of October which means that they will be able to plant 60% of the safrinha corn before the ideal planting window closes about February 20th. The remaining 40% of the corn would be planted after the planting window closes, provided there are no soybean harvest delays due to wet weather.

We had mentioned in previous reports that farmers in Mato Grosso are worried about the concentrated planting window resulting in a concentrated harvest window as well. According to Famato, 80% of the soybeans in the state will be ready for harvest in a 15-20 day period. If a prolonged period of wet weather occurs when the soybeans are ready for harvest, there could be quality concerns as well as the potential for lower yields. Additionally, any harvest delays would mean that even less of the safrinha corn would be planted before the planting window closes.

Parana - The soybean planting in Parana advanced to approximately 47% which is equal to last year's pace. The most advanced planting is in the western part of the state where many farmers are close to completing their soybean planting. The state of Parana is responsible for producing approximately 16.5% of Brazil's soybeans.

Rio Grande do Sul - Rio Grande do Sul is the third leading producing state responsible for approximately 13% of Brazil's production and soybean planting in the state is getting off to a slow start. Contrary to other regions of Brazil, the problem in Rio Grande do Sul has been wet weather. Estimates from Emater/RS (the state extension service) put the soybean planting at 2% compared to 10% last year at this time. Wet weather during October delayed field work in preparation for planting, but soybean planting in the state is expected to accelerate as the weather improves.

Northeastern Brazil - Soybean planting starts later in northeastern Brazil because of the delayed start to the summer rainy season. The region just received some of its first showers earlier last week with some of the showers heavy enough to encourage farmers to start planting while other farmers are still waiting for moisture. In the state of Bahia approximately 5% of the soybeans have been planted. The near term forecast is only calling for scattered showers in the region this week, which is not enough to encourage rapid planting.