South America Calling
Alastair Stewart South America Correspondent

Monday 11/04/13

Brazil Soy Planting Nears Halfway Point

After a slow start, Brazilian soybean planting picked up the pace over the last three weeks as regular rainfall returned. Nearly half the 2013-14 crop has now been sown.

Ample soil moisture allowed field work to move forward briskly last week, and the area planted rose from 34% to 48% in the seven days to Nov. 1, according to AgRural, a local farm consultants. As a result, planting is now ahead of schedule, beating the five-year average of 44%.

Planting reached 72% of projected area in Mato Grosso, Brazil's largest soy-producing state, which is up from 53% last week and well ahead of the 60% planted last year, said the consultants.

The ability of Mato Grosso farmers to plant 4.3 million acres in a week is a function of the heavy investment that farmers have made in machinery over the last three years.

In the northern reaches of the state, farmers are nearly done planting, at 85% complete, and the crop is looking extremely good, said AgRural.

In the south of the state, farmers continue to complain about insufficient soil moisture and there have been isolated cases of replanting.

In neighboring Goias, the No. 4 producing state, planting efforts accelerated after showers last week and 58% of the crop is now planted, well ahead of the 36% planted at the same point last year.

In the southern state of Parana, the No. 2 state, field work progressed steadily last week, to reach 63% complete, slightly ahead of last year when 58% had been planted.

In the early planting areas west of the state, some crops have already been in the soil six weeks. Conditions there are ideal as the soy enters flowering in these regions.

Planting has only just begun in the southernmost state of Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state, where 8% of the crop was planted as of Friday compared with 10% last year. Delays are being caused by excessive soil moisture.

Conditions will remain favorable for soy across most of the center-west region over the next week with showers forecast for most key producing regions, according to Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service.

However, showers will become gradually scarcer across the southern soy belt in the next two weeks, which will be of concern to producers in western Parana where beans are reaching key developmental stages.

AgRural reduced its Brazilian soybean area forecast slightly to 72.4 million acres due to less planting than anticipated in the northeast of Parana state. But area remains 5.8% higher than last year.

As a consequence, the consultant clipped its production estimate to 88.7 million metric tons, which is still at the top end of forecasts for the crop.

Populations of the Helicoverpa armigera caterpillar have been reported across most of the principal producing states, said the consultant.

The presence of the caterpillar, also known as corn earworm, which caused up to $900 million in damage to soy and cotton crops in the northeastern state of Bahia last year, has concerned farmers since the start of the season. Growers are being very proactive in monitoring and controlling the pest, although this comes at a cost.

Alastair Stewart can be reached at alastair.stewart@telventdtn.com

(AG)

Posted at 9:14AM CST 11/04/13 by Alastair Stewart
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