February 14, 2018

Brazilian Soybeans 10% Harvested, Pace in Parana Very Slow

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

According to AgRural, the 2017/18 Brazilian soybean harvest is 10% complete, which is slightly behind the 5-year average of 12%. The harvest pace is not uniform in Brazil with Mato Grosso pushing the pace ahead (at least for now) and Parana holding it back.

Mato Grosso - The soybean crop in Mato Grosso is 28.6% harvested, which represents an advance of 8.7% for the week. Last year at this time, the crop was 45.7% harvested and the 5-year average is 31.9%. The most advanced harvest is the mid-north where 42.9% of the soybeans are harvested. Last year at this time, the mid-north was 66.3% harvested. The slowest harvesting is in northeastern Mato Grosso where 4.4% of the soybeans have been harvested compared to last year when 15.9% had been harvested.

Early yields in Mato Grosso are variable with many farmers worried about wet weather as they are trying to harvest their soybeans. Conab is estimating that farmers in Mato Grosso increased their soybean acreage by 2.1% to 9.5 million hectares. They feel the yields will decline 1.7% compared to last year to 3,218 kg/ha (46.6 bu/ac) and the total production will be 0.4% more than last year at 30.6 million tons (about 100,000 tons more than last year). The Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) is estimating the crop at 30.9 million tons, which would be slightly lower than last year because they are using a larger production for last year compared to Conab.

There have been numerous reports recently concerning very wet soybeans in Mato Grosso that have been sitting in the rain for several weeks after they were ready for harvest. Some soybeans are being harvested with up to 40% moisture content, when the maximum for safe storage is 14%. There are moldy soybeans, some sprouting in the pods, and even some fields that will not even be harvested. These are the exceptions of course because you only hear about the problems. But, it does illustrate some of the problems being encountered in Mato Grosso.

Parana - In contrast to Mato Grosso, the soybean harvest in the state of Parana is only 1% complete compared to 13% last year and 16% average. The slow pace is due to delayed planting last fall especially in the western part of the state. A lot of the soybeans were planted in a narrow time frame when rains started to fall last October and many of those soybeans will be ready to start harvesting this week. Progress may still be slow though due to the forecast for more rain this week.

The soybeans in Parana are rated 14% average and 86% good with 67% of the crop filling pods and 20% of the crop mature. Early yield reports out of Parana indicate soybean yields less than anticipated probably due to the combination of prolonged cloudy and wet weather and the inability to make the timely fungicide applications necessary to keep soybean rust in check. Additionally, there are reports of some soybeans in western Parana that have very few or no pods at all, which is something that has never been seen before in the region.

According to the chief economists from the Department of Rural Economics (Deral), in the 28 municipalities in the region surrounding the city of Cascavel in western Parana, the soybean acreage increased 2% this year, but the total soybean production is expected to decline 3% due to lower yields.

Deral is expecting the yields in the region to be below 3,700 kg/ha (53.6 bu/ac) compared to the 3,932 kg/ha last year (57.0 bu/ac). Deral attributes the lower yields to nearly constant cloudy and wet weather experienced in the region from mid-December to the end of January. The cloudy conditions reduced photosynthesis activity and most importantly, prevented farmers from applying needed fungicide treatments for the control of soybean rust. During the entire 2017/18 growing season, the state of Parana has consistently been the state in Brazil with the highest number of confirmed cases of soybean rust.

Some early yields in western Parana in the mid-40 bu range compared to last year when they were in the range of 60 bu/ac.