South America Calling
Alastair Stewart South America Correspondent

Wednesday 05/21/14

Brazil's Second-Crop Soy Fail

As the second-crop soybean harvest gets under way in Mato Grosso, it appears Brazil's experiment with double cropping soybeans has been less than successful.

Early yields are disappointing at 9 to 27 bushels per acre and costs have been higher than expected because of the need to spray repeatedly to keep Asian rust in check.

"We suspect that farmers will see planting two crops of soybeans each year doesn't pay, but we must wait for the results of this year," said Nery Ribas, head agronomist at the Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Growers Association (Aprosoja-MT).

Over the last ten years, double cropping summer soybeans with a winter crop of corn has become well established across Brazil's grain belt.

However, this year poor prospective prices and high costs made second-crop corn unattractive and some opted to plant soybeans again instead.

Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 soy state, planted 296,000 acres of second-crop soy, this season, up 600% on the year before, according to IMEA, a farmer-financed research group, while Parana, the No. 2 soy state, planted 267,000 acres, up 34% on the year before, according to the state agriculture secretariat.

Across Brazil as a whole, around 600,000 acres of second-crop soybeans were planted.

The idea was to plant a cheap crop of soybeans. But farmers have had to apply fungicide between three and seven times to control Asian rust and apply pesticide three times to control caterpillars. That raised costs and the results are not offsetting this outlay.

Many farmers sought to produce seeds for the main 2014-15 season. But poor yields and the fungus problems mean not that many seeds will come out of the crop, noted Aprosoja's Ribas.

Brazilian farmers have been spending more and more on chemicals in the last couple of years to control growing disease and pest threats. Farm leaders are worried that, should second-crop soy planting spread, it will increase fungus and pest resistance further, raising costs at a time when soybean margins are tightening.

The Mato Grosso state government is considering a ban on planting soybeans between December 31 and September 15, extending the existing restriction that runs from July 15 to September 15.

In fact, such a move may be unnecessary as many farmers will likely see this year's crop as a failed experiment.

With second-crop soy accounting for less 1% of main-crop planting area, the overall impact on the 2014-15 soybean crop will be limited, noted Ribas, but it should be monitored closely, he added.


Posted at 2:07PM CDT 05/21/14 by Alastair Stewart
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