South America Calling

Northern Mato Grosso Continues to Report Poor Early Soy Yields

By Alastair Stewart , South America Correspondent

Reports of low early harvest soybean yields continue to filter in from Mato Grosso, Brazil's top soy-producing state.

Soybean yields of 9 to 27 bushels per acre have been common across northern Mato Grosso in the first couple of weeks of the harvest.

"Some early planted beans suffered very badly from the dry weather," said Laercio Lenz, president of the farm society in Sorriso, Brazil's biggest soy district in the center-north of the state.

Rain was uncommonly patchy and inconsistent across the region in October, November and December.

Lenz noted that there are various instances of farmers not bothering to harvest soy and simply planting second-crop corn over the top.

The state of the crop is precarious, according to the Mato Grosso Agricultural Economy Institute (IMEA). It issued a survey Monday which found over 30% of the state's crop is in 'poor and terrible' condition.

However, not all Mato Grosso farms suffered equally. Early harvested crops in the south of the state have yielded good results and early harvest losses in the north have not been uniform.

While there are many farmers disappointed with yields, there are also a significant number harvesting well, with yields over 55 bpa, Lenz noted.

Overall, it's difficult to interpret this year's crop.

Normally, by late January you have a fair idea of what Mato Grosso will produce. That isn't the case this year, not only because of varied early yields but also due to massive planting delays, which extended up to a month amid the dryness. With an uncharacteristically large volume of beans planted late this year, the abundant rains since late December could have had a really positive impact.

The IMEA crop-health data does not yet indicate a recovery, but the rain certainly helped, says Nery Ribas, head agronomist at the Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Growers Association (Aprosoja-MT)

The Aprosoja team is touring the northern regions this week to assess the impact of the El Nino-triggered dry weather.

While there certainly are issues with the state's crop, it is worth noting that IMEA is still only predicting a 3% decline in average yields on the year to 45 bpa and only a 1% reduction in statewide production to 27.8 million metric tons on greater planting.

As of Friday, the Mato Grosso soybean crop was 3.7% harvested, down from 7.5% at the same point last year, said IMEA.

(CZ)

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