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October 15, 2015

Soybean Planting Slowed by Dry Weather in Central Brazil

Irregular rains thus far in the state of Mato Grosso has Brazilian soybean farmers cautious in the planting of their 2015/16 soybean crop. According to the latest report from the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea), farmers in the state have planted 6.1% of their intended soybean acreage which is behind the 8.5% that was planted last year at the same time.

Most of the planting thus far in the state has been in the western regions where isolated areas have received 6-8 inches of rainfall while other areas have only received an inch or less. The soybean planting in the western part of the state is approximately 9% with many soybeans planted under center pivot irrigation because farmers want to plant a second crop of cotton after the soybeans are harvested. Planting progress is even slower in eastern Mato Grosso where there has been very little rainfall thus far.

A few farmers who have large areas to plant, but don't the planters necessary to plant in a timely manner, are planting the soybeans in dry soil hoping that the rains will arrive soon. This is a very risky proposition because if the first rain is enough to germinate the soybeans, but not enough to sustain the newly emerged soybeans, the field may have to be replanted at a later date. Temperatures in the state are in the upper 90's to low 100's, so a light shower is quickly evaporated. Most farmers though are cautious and will only plant when there is enough soil moisture to insure germination and stand establishment in order to avoid having to replant.

The near term forecast is only calling for widely isolated afternoon showers with improved chances of rainfall arriving next week. In 2014, soybean planting in the state only picked up the pace started on October 24th with the arrival of more substantial rainfall.

As long as the soybean planting in the state gets underway by the end of October, the soybean crop could still achieve normal yields if the weather cooperates during the growing season. The bigger risk from delayed soybean planting would be a delay in planting the second crop of corn in January and February. A delayed planting of the safrinha corn crop could result in reduced safrinha corn acreage and lower corn yields if the rainy season ends before the crop is mature. That has not happened for the last four years due to an extended rainy season that resulted in very good safrinha corn yields.

Mato Grosso is the largest soybean and corn producing state in Brazil responsible for approximately 30% of Brazil's soybean production and 35% of the safrinha corn production. The safrinha corn crop is expected to account for approximately 65% of all the corn produced in Brazil in 2015/16.

Soybean planting is also being delayed in the state of Goias and Minas Gerais also due to dry conditions. Farmers in Minas Gerais have reported that they have not started planting their 2015/16 soybeans when normally they would have already planted approximately 40% of the crop.

AgRural estimates that the 2015/16 Brazilian soybean crop is 8% planted compared to 7% last year and 9% average.