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October 22, 2015

Brazil Soybean Planting Progress Depends on Location

Brazilian farmers are either very frustrated by the slow pace of planting their 2015/16 soybean crop due to dry conditions or they are pleased with the rapid pace of planting due to good planting weather. Ironically, both of these conditions are being credited to the strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

The frustrating dry conditions are focused on central Brazil where the summer rains have not yet started. In the state of Goias, which is located in central Brazil and is the fourth largest soybean producing state in Brazil, an estimated 2-4% of the soybeans have been planted compared to an average of 10-15% at this time of the year. Unfortunately, the forecast is not calling for abundant rainfall to occur in the state until early in November.

Agronomist are advising farmers not to rush out and plant their soybeans as soon as the first rain occurs, but to wait until there is sufficient soil moisture to insure adequate germination and stand establishment. The state had a similar delay in planting last year and the earliest planted soybeans ended up with the lowest yields. The problem was that the earliest planted soybeans had lower plant populations due to irregular germination and early vegetative development, which was caused by the dry conditions. The problems early in the growing season eventually resulted in lower yields.

Waiting to plant soybeans may result in higher yields in the state, but it will probably result in higher production costs as well. Later planted soybeans will be exposed to soybean rust longer into the growing season requiring additional fungicide treatment. It is estimated that the medium and later maturing soybeans may require a total of four fungicide applications in order to keep the disease under control.

Farmers in the state are also anxious to plant their soybeans in order to allow enough time for a second crop of corn, but agronomist are warning them not to rush the soybean planting because soybeans are their principal source of income and they should focus on what is best for the soybean crop and not the safrinha corn crop.

In contrast, farmers in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul (the fifth largest soybean producing state in Brazil) are very pleased with their planting progress. El Nino has resulted in abundant early season rains and farmers are taking advantage of the situation to ramp up their soybean planting.

According to the Agricultural Geographic Information System (Siga), farmers in the state have planted 28% of the 2015/16 soybean crop compared to just 6% last year at this time. In the southern part of the state, the planting progress is even more advanced with 34% of the crop planted with a few municipalities approaching 60-80% planted. Progress has not been as rapid in the northern part of the state where 11% of the soybeans have been planted.