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October 23, 2013

Farmers in Brazil Cautioned about Planting Safrinha Soybeans

Farmers in Mato Grosso may opt for a second crop of soybeans in lieu of the normal second crop of corn. During the last two growing seasons, some farmers in Mato Grosso planted a second crop of soybeans because of the nearly record high soybeans price. This growing season, farmers are contemplating planting a second crop of soybeans because of the extremely low prices being offered for corn. Agronomists though are cautioning farmers who are contemplating this option to be aware of the potential pitfalls for planting two crops of soybeans in the same field during the same growing season.

The two biggest concerns for a second crop of soybeans are soybean rust and the newly discovered corn earworm. Farmers in the state have been combating soybean rust for over a decade and they general feel comfortable in their control measures. The corn earworm is a brand new pest in the state and no one knows for sure how to control it in the first crop of soybeans and certainly no one knows what might happen to the populations of the pest if two crops of soybeans are planted back-to-back.

There are no official estimates concerning how many hectares of safrinha soybeans have been planted in the past or how many may be planted in 2014, but the acreage is expected to increase in 2014.

Some prominent Brazilian scientists are warning Brazilian farmers that the potential profits from a second crop of soybean may be offset by increased costs to control pests and diseases and those farmers might be better off to plant a cover crop for green manure instead. If farmers reduce their safrinha corn acreage as expected, they are also expected to increase their safrinha acreage of cotton, sunflowers, soybeans, dry beans, grain sorghum, millet, or even such minor crops such as canola or winter wheat.

Another factor that farmers need to keep in mind is that any second crop of soybeans must be harvest before the onset of the 90-day soybean free period which begins on June 15th. Additionally, if the second crop of soybeans is harvested just prior to the soybean free period, they would need to increase their efforts to control any volunteer soybeans that might germinate shortly after harvest.

It's always hard for a farmer to leave a field empty for several months when he knows something could be growing in that field. There are no farm programs in Brazil that pay farmers if they keep their fields empty, so the only way to make money is to have something growing in the field.