WASHINGTON — The 2018/19 crop season is underway in Brazil as farmers work to plant their full-season corn crop and soybeans. The soybean-free period ended earlier this month for states such as Parana, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana, and Santa Catarina, while states more to the north and east will remain soybean-free until the end of the month or mid-October. Although farmers don’t always head out into the fields immediately following the close of the soybean-free period, conditions this year have been more favorable. As a result, early soybean planting is off to a stronger start this year. The state of Parana is off to a particularly quick start this season. Unlike last year, where rains didn’t arrive until the end of September, soil moisture was adequate for planting on September 11th. After just one week of planting, Parana had already advanced to 9% complete – the state’s fastest start in 5 years, compared to only 1% the prior year.
In Mato Grosso, soybean planting is off to a more normal pace. Rainfall has been more scattered in the state, leading to a somewhat uneven start to soybean planting. The state as a whole is about 0.8% planted – up from only 0.1% last year – but the western part of the state is the furthest along. In western Mato Grosso, about 1.6% of the crop has been planted thus far. Scattered rains are in the forecast for Mato Grosso and central Brazil over the next 7 days, which should help pick up the planting pace a bit. However, the first week or so of October could turn drier once again for the region. Temperatures over the next 14 days are expected to trend above to much above normal.
While an early start to planting doesn’t necessarily translate into high or even favorable yields for the soybean crop, there are other advantages. Earlier harvest, earlier exporting, and an earlier start to safrinha corn planting can all occur when soybeans are planted earlier. Most farmers want to plant soybeans in a strategic way so that the entire crop doesn’t reach maturity around the same time. This is especially true for those in Central Brazil, as the rainy season typically peaks in January. If their entire crop matured during January, harvest would be somewhat tricky and leave the crop susceptible to mold or possibly pod sprouting. But early planting allows farmers to mix early, medium, and late maturing varieties of the crop.
Early exports of the crop will allow farmers, especially in Parana which is closer to the main port, to take advantage of the current strong premium on Brazilian soybeans. Demand for soybeans is currently high from China and could potentially increase further. Finally, since early planting leads to early harvest, it would allow farmers to get a jump on planting their second (safrinha) corn crop. Safrinha corn is largely grown in central Brazil in states such as Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Parana, and Goias to name a few. The later the crop is planted, the greater the risk of it running out of proper moisture and leading to disappointing yields. While each state has their own “ideal planting window”, most in the region closes by mid-late February or early-mid March. While it is still far too early to know how safrinha corn planting will go, the early start to soybean planting is certainly a potential positive for the future.
— Weather Trends 360
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