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March 2, 2016

Soy in NE Brazil Continue to Suffer Under Hot and Dry Conditions

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

Many soybean producers in northeastern Brazil are watching their soybeans wither under the relentless sun of February. Northeastern Brazil, including the state of Bahia, Maranhao, Tocantins, and Piaui, is traditionally a semiarid region, but this year it has been dryer than normal. Dry weather earlier in the growing season delayed the planting until November and even then the showers were spotty until later in December. The weather turned very wet during January with torrential rains across the region, but the month of February turned very dry with high temperatures and strong winds.

The biggest impact has been on the soybeans that were planted in late November and early December because they were filling pods during February when it turned the driest. The soybeans planted in January are currently flowering and setting pods and they could still regain most of the yield potential if wet weather would return soon.

In the municipality of Urucui, which is located in southern Piaui, the soybean planted in November could lose as much as 60% of the potential yields. The early yield expectations was that the average yield would be in the range of 50 sacks per hectare or 43.6 bu/ac. The hardest hit soybeans are maturing a month earlier than normal due to the hot and dry conditions. Soybeans that normally would be harvested about April 1st are already ready for harvest with very poor yield prospects. The January planted soybeans could still achieve acceptable yields if the rains returned soon. Farmers who forward contracted their anticipated soybean production are concerned that they will not be able to fulfill those contracts.

In the municipality of Guarai, which is located in north-central Tocantins, the story is very similar. Some fields have gone 40 days without a rain with loses as high as 70%. The early harvest has started and the hardest hit fields are yielding less than 15 sacks per hectare (13 bu/ac) compared to 50 sacks per hectare in a normal year (43.5 bu/ac). Once again, the soybeans planted in November have been impacted the most because the dry weather hit during pod filling.

Unfortunately, the story is similar all across northeastern Brazil where 10% of Brazil's soybeans are planted. The corn crop in the area has also suffered under the adverse conditions. Few farmers in the area have crop insurance and for the few that do have insurance, it will not cover their costs.