South America Calling

Brazil Soy: Planting Progresses; Southern Dryness a Concern

Brazilian soybean planting progressed well across the vast grain belt over the last week, amid alternating periods of rain and sunshine.

Farmers had planted 76% of the crop as of Nov. 23, moving forward ten percentage points in seven days, but still behind the 86% registered at the same point last year, Safras e Mercado, a local consultancy, said Monday.

Precipitation of greater intensity and regularity has hit the center-west and northeast over the last couple of weeks, creating soil moisture levels conducive to planting and germination.

As a result, farmers are now optimistic about the crop, putting behind them the anxiety spawned from the drier-than-normal weather experienced in September and October.

In Mato Grosso, the top soy state, planting is almost complete at 96% and farmers in nearly all regions are reporting healthy crops. In neighboring Goias, where fieldwork was more severely delayed by the October dry weather, farmers have seeded 76% of the crop, down on 92% at the same point last year, but crops look generally good.

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More showers are forecast for the center-west and northeast this week.

However, weather concerns are mounting over the soybean crop in the south of the country.

Dry weather in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul since October has put back planting, which is only 44% complete compared with 73% last year.

According to the Emater-RS, the state agricultural department, the soy-producing north of the state has been hardest hit and signs of stress are common in the crop.

Rainfall of 1 to 2 inches on Friday and Saturday ameliorated the situation, but the charts contain no rain for the region this week, according to Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service.

More rain is also needed in neighboring No. 2 soy state Parana, where planting is already 96% complete, and southern Mato Grosso do Sul, where fieldwork is 95% done.

However, Somar sees no rain for these regions either.

It remains too early to talk about losses in the south, although some regions may have lost productive potential, but rain in the longer-term forecasts must materialize, otherwise the crop in the south will suffer, said Safras e Mercado in its weekly report.

Farms in the south suffered badly from drought last year and a repeat event would cripple many producers.

Brazil is pegged to produce a 2012-13 soybean crop of 80 million to 83 million metric tons this season and possibly overtake the U.S. as the world's biggest producer.


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