South America Calling

Brazil Harvest Slowed By Rain

By Alastair Stewart

Heavy rains in the first half of January have caused the Brazilian soybean harvest to start slowly, according to AgRural, a local farm consultancy.

As of Friday, farmers had harvested 0.5% of the crop, down from the 1.1% harvested at the same stage last year, it said.

Irritating as it may be to those trying to harvest, the rainfall has been broadly welcomed as it helps crops in Mato Grosso and other parts of the center-west recover from a drier-than-usual first part of the season.

Mato Grosso had harvested 1.7% of planted area as of Friday, down from 3% last year. Precipitation stymied harvest efforts but drought-induced planting at the start of the season means there aren't that many fields ready for the combines anyway. Harvest efforts will only accelerate in February in the state, said AgRural.

Early harvest yields were low in the north of the state, one of the worst affected by the dry weather. In Sinop, early harvest yields vary between 31 and 36 bushels per year. But in the west, in Sapezal, early yields vary between 37.5 and 54 bpa.

In Parana, farmers took advantage of breaks in the rain to start harvesting. Fieldwork is still in the very early stages, at 0.3% complete compared with 1.3% at the same time last year. In the west of the state, heavy rain in the last quarter of 2015 has prolonged the cycle of the beans.

Elsewhere, weather over the last week was generally positive for the crop, AgRural said.

Matopiba, the frontier region in the eastern Cerrado, had a difficult start to the season due to dry weather. But rain was once again abundant last week.

Meanwhile, in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 producing state, rainfall was limited to sparse showers, a welcome change after the heavy rain of recent weeks. However, of concern are forecasts of dry weather through the end of next week.

SOY MARKET SLOW

The question marks over the size of the crops in Mato Grosso and Matopiba due to the dry weather caused the Brazilian soybean market to stall in December.

As of the end of last month, the 2015-16 soybean was 48% sold, up just four points on a month previous. The figure remains well ahead of last season when 31% was sold at the end of December and in line with the five-year average of 44%.

The decline of the Brazilian real below R$4 to the dollar allied to low futures prices in Chicago offered little stimulus to trade, AgRural said.

In the center-west, the crop was 54% sold, ahead of the 38% sold at the same point last year and slightly ahead of the five-year average of 50%.

(CZ)

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