Soybean harvesting began in Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 producing state, at the start of the month. As of Jan. 7, fieldwork was 0.3% complete, well back on the 1.9% harvested at the same point last year, according to the Mato Grosso Agricultural Economy Institute (IMEA).
This year's crop was massively delayed by hot, dry conditions during the main planting period in September and October. As a result, the crop is up to a month behind schedule in many parts of the state.
The driest conditions were registered in the north and the east of the state, which is normally among the earliest harvesting regions.
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But the delays there mean the majority of harvesting took place in the west, center and south of the state, said IMEA, which is backed by the state farm federation.
These regions were not badly affected by the dry conditions and that is reflected in harvest yields, which are reported at 45.3 bushels per acre or roughly in line with IMEA yield forecast for the state's crop. That isn't bad considering these are short-cycle beans and the dry conditions. In the center-north region, where the weather was hotter and drier than the south, early yields also weren't too bad at 43.7 bpa.
The big question is how did the later-planted beans fair during the dry spell, which is something we will start to discover during the next month or so.
In December, IMEA lowered its estimate for the Mato Grosso crop from 29 million metric tons (mmt) to 28 mmt due to the consistent hot and dry weather across large parts of the north and east of the state in the last quarter of 2015. And it warned that the losses could in fact be greater, especially if rainfall doesn't return.
The good news is that the tropical showers so typical of the region have returned since Christmas and consistent rains are forecast for most of the state for the rest of the month.
Alastair Stewart can be reached at Alastair.firstname.lastname@example.org
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