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September 15, 2016

Brazilian Farmers Advised to go Slow with Early Soybean Planting

September 15th marks the end of the soybean-free period in Brazil and Brazilian farmers are now free to start planting their 2016/17 soybean crop. Meteorologists and farm groups though have advised farmers in Mato Grosso and central Brazil to be cautious about rushing out to the field with their planters due to the uncertain weather forecast. The first soybeans in Brazil are generally planted in central Mato Grosso.

There were some rains in Mato Grosso during the second half of August, which helped to recharge some of the soil moisture, but it has been dry since then and there is little rainfall in the forecast until the last week of September. Meteorologists in Brazil are forecasting that significant summer rains may not materialize until the second half of October.

If farmers plant their soybeans without adequate soil moisture to insure stand establishment, the small soybean seedlings may die due to the hot and dry conditions that are typical this time of the year. September can be the hottest month of the year in Mato Grosso with temperatures ranging from the upper 90's to low 100's due to the intense tropical sun and a lack of cloud cover. The temperatures of bare soil can be extremely high. If farmers plant after the first rain or with inadequate soil moisture, it might be several weeks before the next rain occurs.

Farmers are also being advised not to try and get a head start by "planting in the dust" while they wait for the first rains of the summer. The very high soil temperatures can result in reduced germination when the rain finally does occur.

Another reason for being caution about planting too early are doubts about the seed supply. Soybean seed production was also impacted by last year's adverse weather so there is a concern that if a farmer needs to replant their soybeans, he may not be able to purchase the variety he likes or the germination may be sub-par.

The financial situation of many farmers in central Brazil is troublesome. They had a bad growing season last year and many farmers are having trouble paying their production loans or fulfilling their forward grain contracts. These farmers are being advised to be cautious in their plating plans to avoid the possibility of having to replant.

The state of Mato Grosso is where the first soybeans are generally planted in Brazil, but that may not be the case this growing season. The early planting conditions are probably better in southern Brazil, so some of the first soybeans may be planted in Parana and southern Mato Grosso do Sul.

A delayed soybean planting in central Brazil does not necessarily mean a potential lower soybean yield. Soybeans planted in October or early November generally have the same yield potential as soybeans planted in September if the weather cooperates for the remainder of the summer. A delayed soybean planting in central Brazil can have a major impact on the second crop of corn. Delayed soybean planting means a delay in planting the safrinha corn, which greatly increases the risk for the corn crop. A delayed soybean planting also means a delay in the start of soybean exports early next year, which means a longer export window for U.S. soybeans.