South America Calling

Dryness Hurts Soy in Brazil's Southernmost State

By Alastair Stewart

Dry weather is sapping yield potential of the 2013-14 soybean crop in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, the state farm agency (Emater) said Friday.

And with 80% of the crop in the sensitive flowering and pod-filling stages, the chances of real losses are mounting with each dry day, it said in its weekly report.

Rio Grande do Sul enjoyed substantial rains up to mid-January, but rainfall has declined since.

The reason is a hot air system sitting over Uruguay and northern Argentina, which is blocking the movement of rain-carrying cold fronts into the soy regions of the state.

A cold front is forecast to break through the barrier later next week, and it is vital that it brings rains.

Rio Grande do Sul is expected to produce approximately 13.5 million to 14 million metric tons of soybeans, up 10% on the year before.

While hot, dry conditions are affecting large parts of Brazil's southeast and south, Rio Grande do Sul is one of the few states where soybeans have been affected. The crops in neighboring Parana are largely further along and haven't been hurt by the recent dryness, while Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais are not major soybean producers.

Despite the dry spell, most analysts still expect Brazil to produce 90 mmt or more.

In Rio Grande do Sul, some 18% of the soybean crop is in vegetative development, some 40% is in the flowering stage, while 42% is in pod-filling stage. Harvesting will begin next month.

Corn harvesting is 30% complete, but the dry weather is also affecting some later-planted corn.

(AG)

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