South America Calling

Brazil's Soy Crop Resilient in Face of Drought

Guilherme Scheffer, CFO of Grupo Scheffer -- one of Brazil's biggest farms -- told DTN on Tuesday that soybeans look good across northern and western Mato Grosso. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)

The soybean is a resilient plant, and so it is really too early in the season to worry about losses to drought in Mato Grosso and surrounds, Brazilian speakers at the DTN/The Progressive Farmer Ag Summit in Chicago said Tuesday.

"(I) don't worry too much about it impacting overall yields," Renato Rasmussen, economic analyst at Rabobank in Brazil, said on the sidelines of the conference in Chicago.

Rabobank pegs Brazilian soybean output at 105 million metric tons (mmt), which is at the high end of estimates.

Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 soy state, has experienced well-below-average rainfall since the season for the oilseed started in September with the driest conditions seen in the big-producing northern reaches.

The lack of rain hampered planting in October and November, prompted some replanting, and there are reports of aborted flowering.

But it hasn't been a blanket drought, with showers regularly dousing parts of the state, and crops in many area still look OK.

Grupo Scheffer, one of Brazil's biggest farms, says its soybeans look good across northern and western Mato Grosso and are expecting the same or slightly better yields than last year.

"We haven't really had any problems with our crop," said Guilherme Scheffer, CFO of the group that plants around 400,000 acres.

However, the delays will inevitably have a knock-on effect on second-crop corn.

Late soybean harvesting in Mato Grosso and the rest of the center-west will push back corn planting, which could expose the corn to dry conditions in the winter.

As a result, Rasmussen has reduced his expectations for the expansion in Brazilian second-crop corn area from 6% to 8% to something around 5%.

Farmers are planning to expand area after the devaluation of the Brazilian real greatly improved margins, but they will be wary of the heightened weather risk, he said. That concern will heighten if the possibility of the return of La Nina actually becomes a reality as the phenomenon can cause extended dry weather in the Brazilian Cerrado.

(AG)

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