OMAHA (DTN) -- With soybean prices at robust levels above $12 per bushel in the U.S. futures market, Mato Grosso farmers were expected to go full speed ahead with planting at the earliest possible time.
However, even though Brazil's soybean planting season officially began Sept. 15, very little planting has actually occurred. Mato Grosso's ag ministry pegged less than one-half percent of the estimated soybean acreage had been planted by Sept. 25.
"There has been very little soybean planting so far ... they (government workers) aren't even doing comparative figures yet," said DTN South America Correspondent Alastair Stewart. He added that most farmers are waiting for rain before they plant soybeans.
That wait may continue. DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino said a later beginning to central Brazil's rainy season is not out of the question after a sustained drier period.
"I am leaning on the drier side for the start of planting," Palmerino said. "There's always a question on the onset of the rainy season. It generally arrives, so the only concern is the chance that the rainy season is a little bit late."
With limited soybean supplies, however, a later start to Brazil's soybean planting means a longer period of time before the South America 2014 soybeans are available to the world market; thus, it will be more time for the upcoming U.S. soybean harvest to command the stage. DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom sees this as a viable possibility, with futures market contract relationships providing the signals.
"If spring planting is pushed back, waiting for rain, it could lead to a later harvest and re-energize the deferred futures spreads in soybeans, and possibly corn," Newsom said. "We'll see how planting progress actually goes in the coming weeks."
One feature that does not appear to be in the seasonal outlook for either Brazil or Argentina is drought. Palmerino noted that the Pacific Ocean is in a neutral temperature phase, with neither El Nino nor La Nina present.
El Nino features large areas of above-normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and associated west-to-east upper-level winds; La Nina involves below-normal temperatures in the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean and certain barometric pressure measurements.
Having neither weather pattern may not be a big rain-maker, but it does not line up with South America drought either.
"If we either had La Nina or were going into La Nina, I would go with a drier pattern. But now, we are at the mercy of the medium features," Palmerino said. "Down the road -- I cannot portray a drought issue."
The region of South America's row-crop empire that is most drought-prone is southern Brazil through central Argentina, "but that's uncertain due to the neutral Pacific," Palmerino said.
If there were to be a drought in these areas, "it would be due to the persistence of a particular pattern unrelated to El Nino or La Nina if the patterns just want to stay in a particular configuration," Palmerino said.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at Bryce.email@example.com
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