Brazilian Farm Life 09-13-19: Ready...Set...Wait!

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Brazilian Farm Life 09-13-19: Ready...Set...Wait!

Here in the northern hemisphere, we are gearing up for fall harvest, and then winter. In the southern hemisphere, Brazil is prepping for planting. The bulk of Brazil’s soybean production states don’t face winters with freezing temperatures. On a positive note, not having cold winters means double crop opportunities are limited only by rainfall. However, the lack of cold winters also has disadvantages. In the early 2000s, Asian rust was a major threat to Brazilian soybean production. Since Brazil had no winter to buffer this epidemic, in 2006 a soybean free period was instituted.

Between mid-June and mid-September no live soybean plants can be found on one’s property. Farms with soybean plants during this period are fined. Private organizations, farmers and government, all worked together on this effort. Farmers are supportive and compliant. This week marks the end of the soybean free period in southern Brazil. Next week will be the end for central Brazil. Planting can officially start, but it is too dry.

As shown on the map, rainfall is well below normal in Brazil’s key production regions. I have circled three regions which are important to watch. The center of the grain production area is circled in blue. For the sake of reference, this region is closer to the equator than Miami. The three states circled in blue make up over half of Brazil’s soybean production. Mato Grosso is the largest production state in the nation and is located in this region. Over ¼ of Brazil’s soybean production comes from Southern Brazil. Paraná is the second largest production state. Finally, the black circle shows the region known as MATOPIBA. This is an expansionary region made up of four states (Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí and Bahia). To be sure, other regions of Brazil also have important agricultural activity, but this offers a broad view of major row crop areas in Brazil.

As the new production cycle begins, we are entering the part of the year when South American weather can move markets. The Roach Ag Marketing weather maps shows the percentage that major production regions contribute to total production. To track Brazil weather with production areas highlighted, click here. Early planting for soybeans is in September, but rainfall is not expected until mid-October. While soybean yields may be unaffected by later rains, the potential for double crop corn goes down with each passing dry week. Double crop corn accounts for ¾ of Brazil’s corn production. Not only are prospects for double crop corn looking bleaker with delayed rains, first crop corn production in southern Brazil is already behind schedule and seed corn sales are down relative to last year.

More than half of the challenge of raising a good crop is timely planting and a good stand. I’ve planted earlier than I should have before. I remember standing in a field with a bad stand as my dad told me what his grandfather used to say. “When everyone starts planting, go fishing, and start planting the next day”. Most farmers in Brazil are still in a waiting mode. It is too dry to plant and rain forecasts are not encouraging. Brazilian farmers are waiting for rains to turn on so they can start planting, just like farmers in the USA waited for rains to turn off this spring.

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