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September 13, 2012

Early Maturing Soybean Varieties Sold Out in Brazil

Even though farmers in central Brazil will be allowed to start planting their 2012/13 soybean crop on Saturday, September 15th, they will not plant their soybeans until there is enough soil moisture to insure germination and stand establishment. When they do start planting their soybeans, the preference for many farmers in central Brazil will be to plant early-maturity soybeans.

The demand for early-maturing soybeans is so great that many popular varieties have been sold out for months. According to the vice president of the Seed Producer Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosmat), Elton Hamer, the smaller U.S. corn crop is one of the driving forces behind the increased demand for early maturing soybean varieties in Brazil.

As a result of a much smaller U.S. corn crop, international corn prices are extremely good and farmers want to maximize their safrinhaiS corn production to take advantage of the good prices. The safrinha corn is planted after the soybeans are harvested and the earlier the corn is planted, the higher the yield potential for the corn crop. In order to plant the corn as early as possible, they need to harvest the soybeans early as well, thus the demand for early maturing soybean varieties. If an early maturing soybean variety is planted in central Mato Grosso during the second half of September, the crop would be ready to harvest in early January, which would then allow enough time to plant the second crop of corn.

In addition to just being early maturing, farmers are also looking for soybean varieties that exhibit improved resistance to nematodes and a greater tolerance to soybean rust. Nematodes are microscopic worms in the soil that feed on the roots of soybeans. As soybean production spreads in Brazil, so too does the problem of nematodes. High infestations of nematodes can significantly impact soybean yields and the best way to avoid yield losses is to plant resistant soybean varieties.

As far as diseases are concerned, soybean rust is the most important disease confronting soybean farmers in Brazil. The disease can be controlled with multiple applications of fungicides, but the number of applications can be reduced by planting more tolerant varieties.

If farmers cannot purchase the early maturing soybean varieties, they may have to settle for later maturity varieties. The later maturing varieties are usually higher yielding than the early maturing varieties, but they can also be more expensive to grow because of soybean rust. The longer the soybeans are in the field the greater the number of fungicide applications that will be needed to control the disease, thus the higher cost. Additionally, if a farmer plants later maturing soybeans he may not be able to plant a second crop of corn, thus reducing his overall income.