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January 3, 2019

2018/19 Brazilian Soybeans receive some Rain, but need More

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

The dryer areas of southern Brazil did receive some welcomed rains over the past week, but the coverage was very uneven. The heaviest amounts were more south and east with lighter amounts more west and north. The rainfall was scattered and uneven with some areas received a couple of inches while other areas received a half an inch or less. The rainfall amounts diminished over the weekend and the forecast looks less than ideal going forward, especially in northeastern Brazil.

As I have been reporting for several weeks, the dry conditions have been moving north into central Brazil and the states of Mato Grosso, Goias, and Minas Gerais. The areas of central Brazil did receive rain late last week and over the weekend. The forecast for this week in central and northeastern Brazil looks dryer, so that is an area to watch going forward.

One of the impacts of the hot and dry weather during December has been an acceleration of the soybean maturity. In many of the dryer areas, farmers are reporting that the soybeans are maturing 20-30 days earlier than anticipated due to the hot and dry conditions. This is resulting in small seeds and irreversible yield losses. Many areas in southern and central Brazil went 20-30 days or longer without rain and the dry weather was accompanied by high temperatures. The earlier planted and earlier maturing soybeans have been impacted the most.

Mato Grosso - The driest area of Mato Grosso is across the eastern part of the state, but there are also dry pockets in central and western Mato Grosso as well. The rainfall in Mato Grosso has been uneven and localized and the temperatures have been very hot. In some areas of Mato Grosso, there has not been a generalized rain for 15-20 days or more.

The pockets of dry weather is also accelerating the soybean crop's development. In the municipalities of Sapezal and Campo Novo do Parecis, which are located in western Mato Grosso, farmers planted their soybeans as early as possible in order to allow as much time as possible for a second crop of cotton. In fact, the dry weather has pushed the soybean crop to mature earlier than normal and farmers in the region have already started to harvest soybeans. It is estimated that 40-50% of the soybeans in western Mato Grosso are the very short-cycle varieties, which mature in 90-95 days.

In the municipality of Sorriso, which is located in the mid-north region of the state, an estimated 70% of the municipality was confronting some level of dryness before the recent rains. Some areas were over 20 days or more without a rain. Going forward, each day that is dry accelerates the maturity of the soybean crop and probably lowers the potential yield of the crop by 1 sack per hectare (0.8 bu/ac).

There have generally been more problems reported in areas where the soil is sandier and has a lower water holding capacity and where the soybeans were planted early. Areas that have recently been converted to row crop production are also reporting problems probably due to lower organic matter in the soil and thus a lower water holding capacity.

Parana - The state of Parana did receive some rain over the past week, but the heaviest amounts were in the eastern part of the state whereas the lighter amounts were in the western part of the state where most of the soybeans are produced. The biggest impact of the dry weather is in western and northwestern Parana.

According to the Organization of Cooperatives in the State of Parana (Ocepar), early yields in the hardest hit areas are in the range of 15 to 20 sacks per hectare (13 to 17 bu/ac) compared to normal yields of 58 sacks per hectare (51 bu/ac). Yields this low are only being reported in isolated areas, but they do indicate the impact of the dry weather.

In the municipality of Toledo, which is located in western Parana, early yields are in the range of 40 sacks per hectare (35 bu/ac), which is well below the normal yields.

Mato Grosso do Sul - In northeastern Mato Grosso do Sul in the region of Chapadao do Sul, the drought hit the early maturing soybeans and prevented the seeds from developing fully. It also accelerated the plant's maturity and the harvest is expected to start in early January, two weeks ahead of normal. Recent rains came too late for the early planted soybeans where some loses may be as high as 40%, but the additional moisture will help the later maturing soybeans.

Sao Paulo, Goias, and Minas Gerais - Similar stories are also being reported in these states as well.

Rio Grande do Sul - The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul had been under some moisture stress earlier in the growing season, but recent rains have generally eliminated the stress. The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul are 89% in vegetative development, 10% flowering, and 1% filling pods.

Northeastern Brazil - The hot and dry weather has also impacted the earlier planted soybeans in northeastern Brazil. Temperatures have been in the range of 34°C to 38°C (94°F to 101°F) and some areas have been three weeks or more without rain. Northeastern Brazil produces about 11-12% of Brazil's soybeans and meteorologists in Brazil are forecasting a dryer than normal January for the region. Therefore, this region needs to be monitored closely going forward.

In order to be able to plant their safrinha corn earlier than normal this year, Brazilian farmers went "all-in" this year planting early maturing soybeans. In the two biggest safrinha corn producing states, which are Mato Grosso and Parana, probably 40-50% of the soybeans are earlier maturing varieties with 90-95 day maturities. Unfortunately, it was those early maturing varieties that were impacted the most by the hot and dry weather during much of December because that is when the early maturing soybeans were filling pods.