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January 11, 2017

Soybeans in Central and Eastern Brazil impacted by Dry Weather

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

The weather in northeastern Brazil has definitely turned dryer since about mid-December and the dryness has spread westward. There are small pockets of dryness in eastern Mato Grosso, but the dryness really starts in Goias and it gets dryer the further east you go. Several weeks ago I estimated that the dryness encompassed maybe 10-12% of Brazil's soybean production. This week, I would estimate that the dryness encompasses maybe 12-15% of Brazil's soybean production. The forecast is calling for some relief from the dryness in the form of scattered showers, but it will take more than scattered showers to turn the situation around.

Other than the dryness in central and eastern Brazil, the remainder of the soybeans in Brazil are generally doing fine. The early soybean harvest is under way in Mato Grosso and the pace will pick up this week as more of the crop reaches harvest maturity. Early reports indicate that the yields are somewhat better than expected which, is no surprise given the good growing conditions thus far this season.

Farmers in municipality of Sorriso, which is located in central Mato Grosso, are expressing concerns about the increase in white fly populations. A high incidence of white flies generally results in soybeans that are smaller in size and lighter in weight than normal, but the damage is not noticeable until the crop is harvested. Therefore, the president of the Rural Syndicate of Sorriso is advising farmers to monitor the fly populations in their fields in order to determine if an insecticide application is justified. Even with higher fly populations, he expects the soybean yields in the municipality to be in the range of 55 sacks per hectare (47.8 bu/ac) with some approaching 60 sacks per hectare (52.2 bu/ac). Sorriso is the largest soybean municipality in Brazil with approximately 600,000 hectares of soybeans.

In a worst case scenario where the dry areas of Brazil only receive 50% the normal rainfall for the remainder of the growing season, the 2016/17 Brazilian soybean production could decline maybe 2-4 million tons. That would be an extreme case and that is not currently expected.