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October 17, 2018

Soybean Planting in Brazil at a Record Fast Pace

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

The 2018/19 soybean crop continues to be planted at a record fast pace. AgRural reported that 20% of the intended soybeans had been planted by the end of last week. This compares to 12% last year and 10% for the 5-year average. This is the fastest planting pace since AgRural started tracking planting in Brazil. The previous record was set in 2016/17 when 18% was planted by this time. Some of these early planted soybeans will be ready to harvest before the end of December.

In Mato Grosso the soybeans are 34% planted compared to 18% last year and 14% for the 5-year average. The most advanced planting is in the western part of the state where 48% of the soybeans have been planted while the slowest pace is in the northeastern part of the state where 12% of the soybeans have been planted.

The soybean planting in Parana is 40% compared to 30% last year and 29% for the 5-year average. The soybeans in Sao Paulo are 30% planted, Mato Grosso do Sul is 26%, Goias is 13%, and Rio Grande do Sul 1%.

The weather generally remains beneficial for planting and early crop development. The eastern and northeastern areas remained generally dry last week, but the forecast for this week is indicating some scattered showers in eastern and northeastern Brazil.

In Conab's first estimate of the 2018/19 growing season, they forecasted a smaller soybean crop and a larger corn crop compared to last year and I thought they were quite conservative in their estimate. At the mid-point of their estimate, they have the soybean acreage increasing about 2% to 35.81 million hectares (88.4 million acres). That acreage estimate is OK for now, but I think it might go up more than that, therefore I have the acreage up 3.5% to 36.32 million hectares (89.7 million acres).

I thought Conab's yield estimate for the 2018/19 soybean crop was especially conservative at 3,302 kg/ha (48.8 bu/ac), which is down 2.7% compared to last year's yield of 50.2 bu/ac and down about 2% from two years ago when it was 49.7 bu/ac.

I think this lower yield estimate is especially interesting given the fact that the soybeans are being planted at a record fast pace. The planting date for soybeans in Brazil is not nearly as important for yields as it is in the U.S. The yield potential for Brazilian soybeans will be determined by the weather during the growing season and not necessarily by the planting date. So, just because the soybeans are planted early, that does not necessarily mean the soybean yields will be higher. With everything being equal though, I would prefer for the soybeans to be planted early because the crop could then get ahead of potential problems such as soybean rust and insects.