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October 17, 2014

Soy Planting in Mato Grosso Slowed due to Hot and Dry Conditions

In response to several weeks of hot and dry conditions, farmers in Mato Grosso have parked their soybean planters while they wait for additional moisture to continue planting their 2014/15 soybean crop. It has been especially dry in the eastern part of the state, which is a major expansion area for soybean production. Mato Grosso is the largest soybean producing state in Brazil responsible for about 30% of Brazil's total soybean production.

Late last week the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) reported that 8% of the soybeans in the state had been planted compared to 9% average. In some the key soybean producing areas of the state the soybeans are less than 10% planted when normally they would be 30% to 40% planted by mid-October. The slow planting pace was substantiated by the president of the Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Producer Association Ricardo Tomczyk on October 15th when he indicated that the planting pace is falling even further behind.

He also expressed concerns that the delayed planting could lead to problems later in the growing season and that the eventual soybean yields could suffer as a result. Farmer usually try to reduce their risks by spreading out the planting of the crop and planting varieties of different maturity lengths. The problem this year could be that when the rain does finally return, farmers will be forced to plant as quickly as possible and that the planting will be concentrated into a smaller window. As a result, a higher percentage of the soybeans will be moving through critical stages of development at the same time, thus increasing the risk from adverse weather.

The delayed planting will also expose the soybean crop to diseases such as soybean rust later in the growing season when high humidity and heavy rainfall is more common. This would increase the cost of control measures and could result in lower yields. It also means that harvesting will be concentrated in a smaller window as well increasing the risk of wet weather delaying the harvest and resulting in reduced seed quality.

Some of the soybeans that were planted during the second half of September may have to be replanted when the rain returns due to poor germination and stand establishment. Tomczyk feels that Imea may actually reduce their estimate of the state's soybean production in future reports. At the end of August, Imea estimated that the state would produce a record 27.68 million tons of soybeans.