Jan. 30, 2019
The weather over the weekend in central Brazil was finally the type of weather you generally expect for this time of the year. In Mato Grosso for example, there was heavy overcast and it rained most of the day on Sunday for a total of 2-4 inches. The weather was similar in Goias, northern Mato Grosso do Sul, northern Minas Gerais, and western Bahia.
But prior to the weekend, the weather in Brazil last week was more of the same, scattered showers with uneven distribution. The temperatures have also been very hot. For example, the city of Sao Paulo is on track to having the hottest January in 76 years. In the city of Campo Grande, which is the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, a thunderstorm last Thursday afternoon broke a three day heat wave where the temperatures were over 104°F for three straight days. This is the type of weather they have been experiencing in central Brazil, prior to this past weekend.
After a few days of rainy weather, the forecast is calling for a return of dryer than normal conditions across central and southern Brazil. The rainfall was certainly beneficial, but the forecast looks like a return of the previous pattern - hotter than normal and dryer than normal. Generally, the biggest weather problem for soybeans in central Brazil during January is too much rainfall as farmers start to harvest their early maturing soybeans. That has not been the case this year and in fact, the soybean harvest is progressing about two weeks ahead of the average pace in central Brazil. The weekend rains will only delay the soybean harvest for a couple of days. AgRural reported on Friday that 13% of the Brazilian soybeans had been harvested compared to 4% last year and 3% for the 5-year average. The fastest harvest pace is in Mato Grosso where 29% of the soybeans have been harvested followed by Parana with 18%, Goias with 14% and Mato Grosso do Sul with 8%. AgRural also indicated that they expect to lower their soybean production estimate during the first week of February. Their last estimate of the Brazilian soybean crop was 116.9 million tons on January 9th.
The soybean harvest in Brazil is running about two weeks ahead of normal, an as a result, I would estimate that the crop could hit as much as 50% harvested by maybe February 15th. If widespread rainfall returns to central Brazil, it could slow down the soybean harvest. The further east you go the dryer the weather has been and I would say the two driest states right now are probably Minas Gerais and Bahia.
Mato Grosso - The Mato Institute of Agricultural Economics (Imea) reported last Friday that 26% of the 2018/19 soybeans had been harvested (this is a little less than AgRural) compared to 12% last year. This represents an advance of 12% for the week. The most advanced harvest is in western Mato Grosso where 38% of the soybeans had been harvested. The slowest harvest pace is in the northeastern part of the state where 9% of the soybeans had been harvested. This is a record fast soybean harvest for the state. The maturity of the soybeans has been accelerated by the hot and dry conditions in parts of the state, especially for the early maturing soybeans.
Once the planting had been completed back in October, Imea forecasted that 10-15% of the soybeans in the state could be harvested by the end of January. Well, we have already surpassed that estimate and there are still a few days left in the month.
In many municipalities in the state such as Sorriso, Nova Mutum, and Primavera do Leste, farmers are reporting disappointing yields for the early maturing soybeans that were filling pods in December when the weather was hot and dry. Now that the harvest is moving into more of the later planted soybeans and the medium maturity soybeans, yields are improving, but they are still irregular.
Parana - The Department of Rural Economics for the State of Parana (Deral) reported that 15% of the soybeans had been harvested. As a result of the hot and dry conditions, they lowered their estimate for the 2018/19 soybean production in the state to 16.8 million tons, which is below the 19.1 million tons they had estimated in December. The soybeans in Parana are 21% flowering and 46% filling pods and the crop is rated 7% poor, 23% average, and 70% good.
Western Parana was hardest hit by the hot and dry weather and in the 20 municipalities surrounding the city of Toledo in western Parana, the soybeans are 75% harvested and agronomists estimate that the yields are down 39% from what was expected at the start of the growing season.
Grande do Sul - In contrast to the rest of Brazil, southern Rio Grande do Sul has been receiving too much rainfall. The soybeans in the state are 32% in vegetative development, 45% flowering, and 23% filling pods. The wettest areas of the state are the southern, southwestern, and western areas. The wettest areas of the state represent about 18% of the state's total soybean production.
In the 52 municipalities most impacted by the wet weather, 16 have declared a state of emergency. This area plants approximately 1 million hectares of soybeans and local authorities estimate that 275,000 hectares have suffered some level of loss.
Recent wet weather has prevented farmers in the state from making timely fungicide applications and as a result, the state now has the most confirmed cases of soybean rust (64). Generally, farmers need to apply fungicides every 20 days to control the disease.
Goias - The state government of Goias is estimating that the statewide soybean yield will decline 6.9% compared to last year and that the total production will decline 4.4% compared to last year. A producer organization in southwestern Goias estimates that the statewide soybean yield will be down 10% compared to last year. Goias is the fourth largest soybean producing state in Brazil.
Mato Grosso do Sul - According to the consulting firm Granos, farmers in the state have harvested approximately 5% of their soybeans and they have sold 36% which is more than last year at this time when they had sold 30% of their crop. They estimate the state will produce 9.1 million tons with an average yield of 3,215 kg/ha (47.5 bu/ac).
The Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso do Sul estimates that the 2018/19 soybean harvest is 7% complete, which is very fast for this time of the year. They estimate that the production in the state will decline 11% from initial expectations. The consulting firm T&F Consultotia Agroeconomica estimated that the average cost of soybean production in Mato Grosso do Sul is R$ 3,143 per hectare or about R$ 58.67 per sack (approximately $7.20 per bushel) if you get an average yield of 54 sacks per hectare (47.9 bu/ac)
Tocantins - In the municipality of Darcinopolis, the early soybean harvest has started and producers are expecting their yields to be down 10% compared to last year when the average yield in the area was 60 to 62 sacks per hectare (53 to 55 bu/ac). Hot and dry weather during December negatively impacted the early planted soybeans.
Northeastern Brazil - The farmers in northeastern Brazil had high hopes when the growing season started, but those hopes are being challenged as persistent hot and dry conditions have prevailed since about the first of the year. Western Bahia is the area of most concern and they did receive some good rains over the weekend, but more will be needed going forward.
The last three growing seasons in western Bahia have been very good with each year setting new production records. Last year for example, it was common to hear of 60 bushel soybean yields in western Bahia, but those good growing seasons were probably the exception. Much of the area is semi-arid, and the summer rainy season starts later in northeastern Brazil and it ends earlier than in other regions of central Brazil. AgRural reported that 1% of the soybeans in Bahia had been harvested, but I have not heard of any yield reports.