South America Calling
Alastair Stewart South America Correspondent

Monday 10/29/12

Brazil's Soy Planting Accelerates, But Cerrado Dryness a Concern

The early narrative for the 2012-13 Brazilian soybean crop continues to be of heavy rains in the southern states but patchy precipitation in the Center-West, especially in the No. 4 soy state of Goias.

Showers did fall across the Center-West last week, allowing fieldwork in this early planting region to move forward, but showers continue to be inconsistent.

Brazil-wide planting rose to 32% of forecast area as of Oct. 26, up 12 percentage points from the week before but lagging the 41% registered at the same point one year ago, according to AgRural, a local farm consultancy.

On highest dryness alert are farmers in Rio Verde, southeastern Goias, where planters sit idle on parched land that has received little more than 1.5 inches of rain in the whole of October.

No further rain is forecast there until the weekend, raising concerns about the plants that are currently germinating there.

In contrast, and highlighting the patchwork nature of the situation, in neighboring Jatai and Mineiros several showers fell last week, allowing planting to advance quickly.

Overall, planting in Goias was 33% complete as of Friday, compared with 51% at this time last year.

Planters were also turned off in many municipalities of western Mato Grosso last week due to the lack of soil moisture, while light rains allowed for rapid planting progress in the northern reaches of the state.

In Mato Grosso as a whole, some 48% of the harvest has been completed by the end of last week, compared with 62% last year.

With a lot of soybeans now in the ground and set to germinate and farmers using a lot of varieties that require October planting, Center-West farmers have now got to a point where decent rainfall over the next couple of weeks is imperative if they are to see their crops realize full potential.

Luckily, the weather maps indicate the outlook will improve with showers forecast for Mato Grosso over the next three days, says Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service.

A cold front coming up from the south is then predicted to bring 2 inches or more of rain to Mato Grosso and Goias between Nov. 2 and Nov. 9.

In the southern state of Parana, the No. 2 soybean state, rainfall was abundant last week. However, planting is still a little behind schedule at 48% compared with 55% last year.

In neighboring Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state, there is ample soil moisture but planting has only just stated. According to AgRural, some 6% of the harvest was completed there up until Friday compared with 10% at the same point last year.

Despite the inconsistent rain, we would do well to remember that it remains an El Nino year and above-average rainfall is expected in November and December across Brazil's vast soy belt.

Posted at 1:48PM CDT 10/29/12 by Alastair Stewart
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