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April 4, 2016

Harvest in Mato Grosso 92% Complete, More Soybeans Move North

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

Farmers in Mato Grosso are approaching the end of the 2015/16 harvest with 92% of their crop harvested according to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea). Last year at this time, the harvest was approximately 95% complete. Therefore, after a relatively slow start to the harvest, it is ending up at about the same time as last year.

Imea is estimating the average soybean yield in the state at 50.3 sacks per hectare (43.7 bu/ac) compared to last year's yield of 52.2 sacks per hectare (45.4 bu/ac). This makes six weeks in a row that the average soybean yield is falling further behind last year's yield. The statewide average yield is being held down by low yields in the north-central part of the state that suffered from hot and dry conditions last November and December.

The freight rates to transport the state's soybeans to distant export facilities usually peak during February and March, but the actual freight rates this year to transport soybeans from Sorriso in central Mato Grosso to the Port of Santos in southern Brazil was actually less than last year. The lower freight rates are being attributed to the fact that more soybeans are now being transported north to export facilities on the Amazon River.

During the month of February, the Port of Santos received 288,000 tons of soybeans from Mato Grosso making it the number one destination for soybeans produced in the state. Second was the Port of Santarem on the Amazon River at 175,800 tons followed by the Port of Paranagua at 117,260 tons. Export facilities on the Amazon River are gaining an ever larger share of the soybeans exported out of Mato Grosso and their share is expected to increase quickly with the completion of the asphalting of highway BR-163 sometime this year linking Mato Grosso and the Amazon River.

Barging operations from the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River, which is a southern tributary to the Amazon River, began in 2014. During the first year of operation, 600,000 tons of soybeans were barged down the Amazon River to ports near the mouth of the river near the city of Belem. In 2015, the amount increased to 1.6 million tons and it is expected to surpass 30 million tons of soybeans and corn in ten years after all the barging operations and ports are in full operation. The Port of Miritituba sits alongside of highway BR-163 and is approximately 1,100 kilometers from central Mato Grosso.

Another reason for the declining freight rates is due to more soybeans being transported out of the state by rail especially from the Ferronorte grain terminal in Rondonopolis, which is located in southeastern Mato Grosso. According to a story in the newspaper Diario de Cuiaba, on a daily basis, seven unit-trains with 80 grain cars each leave the Rondonopolis grain terminal loaded with soybeans bound for the Port of Santos. Another two trains per day leaves their Alto Araguaia terminal for Santos. Combined, these nine trains transport 50,000 tons of soybeans per day out of Mato Grosso or the equivalent of 1,400 trucks and enough to load one vessel per day at the port.