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January 7, 2020

Dry Weather Trimming Soy Yields in Southern Brazil and NE Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The weather in much of central Brazil continues to be beneficial for the developing soybean crop, but that has not been the case in northeastern Brazil and in far southern Brazil. For most of the growing season thus far, the rainfall in northeastern Brazil has been irregular and localized without generalized widespread rains. That seemed to change somewhat over the past week as more rain has fallen across the region, but probably not enough to fully overcome the moisture deficits.

The weather in the far southern state of Rio Grande do Sul has been very problematic. In November, they had too much rain that delayed some of the planting, but since then, it has been just the opposite with hot and dry weather dominating from early December to the present.

In general, the weather has been the best in the states of Mato Grosso, Parana, and Santa Catarina. The weather has been the worst in the states of Rio Grande do Sul and northeastern Brazil. The weather has been just so-so in the states of Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Minas Gerais. The director of Brazil's Soybean & Corn Producers Association (Aprosoja), estimates that 95% of Brazil's soybeans still need additional rains to finish off the season.

I would estimate that at least 15% of Brazil's soybeans have some level of moisture deficits. That includes half of Rio Grande do Sul (about 8% of Brazil's total soybean acreage) and about half of the soybeans in northeastern Brazil (about 6% of Brazil's total soybean acreage). There are also spotty areas of moisture stress in the states Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, and Minas Gerais.

Mato Grosso - The early soybean harvest has started in areas of Mato Grosso where farmers planted very early maturing soybeans (95-day maturity) on September 16th, which was the first day they were allowed to plant after the end of the soybean-free period. These early harvested soybeans will likely be followed by a second crop of cotton or maybe a second crop of corn.

In the municipality of Lucas do Rio Verde for example, which is located in south-central Mato Grosso, the president of the local Rural Syndicate indicated that the early harvest has started and it will continue until about mid-March. He cautioned that some of the early yields may be somewhat disappointing due to periods of dry weather during the growing season.

In the municipality of Sorriso in central Mato Grosso, farmers have harvested 5% of their soybeans with early yields in the range of 60-65 sacks per hectare (53.0 to 57.7 bu/ac). The President of the Rural Syndicate expects the final yield in the municipality to be in the range of 50 to 60 sacks per hectare (44.4 to 53.2 bu/ac), which is about the same as the last two years. Farmers in the municipality have sold approximately 60% of their anticipated soybean production.

In many areas of Mato Grosso, the soybean planting was somewhat delayed due to dry weather. As a result, there are currently fewer soybeans ready to harvest in Mato Grosso compared to the start of last January.

Parana - The early soybean harvest has started in Parana especially in northwestern part of the state. It is going to be an extended harvest season in Parana due to the extended planting season. The president of the Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Parana (Aprosoja/PR) indicated that the early planted soybeans suffered yield declines due the hot and dry conditions earlier in the growing season. The early harvested soybeans are yielding in the range of 30-40 sacks per hectare (26.6 to 35.5 bu/ac).

The intermediate planted soybeans are faring better, but they still need additional rains in the coming days to guarantee a good yield potential. The latest planted soybeans are also expected to have lower yields than expected due to periods of hot and dry weather.

Rio Grande do Sul - The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul are 99% planted and Emater/RS indicates that 85% of the soybeans are in vegetative development, 14% flowering, and 1% filling pods. Emater estimates that farmers in the state planted 5.9 million hectares (approximately 16% of Brazil's total soybean acreage).

The hot and dry conditions in the state have resulted in problems with emergence and plant populations and continue to cause moisture stress. Only 1% of the soybeans in the state are filling pods, so it is still time for the soybeans to partially recuperate, but I think it is probably safe to say that the soybeans crop in the state will underperform this growing season. How much the crop underperforms will depend on the weather of course.

Northeastern Brazil - December was not a good month weather-wise in northeastern Brazil. Hot and dry weather delayed the planting past the closing of the ideal planting window. As a result of the dryness during December, the state of Bahia has extended the date by which soybeans must be planted in order to qualify for government programs from December 31st to January 20th.

In the state of Tocantins in northeastern Brazil, the vice president of the regional Aprosoja association estimates that 30% of the soybeans had to be replanted due to poor emergence and low plant populations caused by the dry weather during December. The state normally receives about 240 mm of rainfall during December (9.6 inches), but only about 40 mm (1.6 inches) fell across the state in December. Aprosoja is estimating that the average soybean yield across the state will be reduced by 20% due to the adverse weather.

In the state of Maranhao, farmers hope to finish planting their soybeans by the end of January. A three week period of dry weather delayed the soybean planting past the ideal planting window. The late planted soybeans could still do OK, but it would require an extended summer rainy season.

The four states in northeastern Brazil plant approximately 12% of Brazil's soybeans which includes: Bahia with 1.6 million hectares, Tocantins with 1.05 million, Maranhao with 1.0 million, and Piaui with 0.78 million.

Mato Grosso do Sul - The soybean planting in southern Mato Grosso do Sul was complicated by dry weather. In the municipality of Laguna Carapa for example, planting should have started on September 16th, but irregular rains delayed the planting and resulted in 20-30% of the soybeans having to be replanted. In the harder hit areas, it is estimated that yields could be down as much as 40%.

The delayed soybean planting in Mato Grosso do Sul is also going to delay the planting of the safrinha corn as well. A local agronomist estimates that farmers in the municipality will reduce their safrinha corn acreage by 30% and instead plant wheat, oats, or a cover crop.