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Dry Weather Delays Brazil Soybean Planting

By Darlene Santiago

The Brazil soybean-planting season began in mid-September but has progressed slowly due to a lack of moisture. Farmers in Mato Grosso, where more than 30% of Brazil’s soybeans are grown, are waiting for rain in order to avoid replanting.

Normally by this time, more than 1 million acres of soybeans have been planted in Mato Grosso, but this year only 378,071 acres of soybeans have been planted, according to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics. In Mato Grosso, farmers are predicted to plant more than 22 million acres of soybeans.

However, it looks like the moisture problem will soon be solved. "It is true that we have had slower planting, but the situation will normalize soon," says Thiago Robles, meteorologist of the Somar Meteorologia. "From the second half of October, we will have a gradual return of the rains. The rains will be sustained, with volumes well distributed over the months."

The National Institute of Meteorology agrees that heavy rains will soon fall in the states of Mato Grosso, Rondônia, and Rio Grande do Sul.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, a state close to Mato Grosso, weather has been normal, and planting is progressing at a closer to normal rate. According to the Association of Soy Producers of Mato Grosso do Sul, 6.4% of the area has been sown. This Brazilian state will plant just under 6 million acres of soybeans.

In the southern areas of Brazil, the climatic conditions are favoring soybean planting. In Paraná, the second-largest state producer of soybeans, abundant rains have helped replenish soil moisture, allowing the advancement of grain planting.

According to Paulo Sentelhas, professor of meteorology for agribusiness in the Agricultural School Luiz de Queiroz at the University of São Paulo, the current situation is caused by the El Niño phenomenon. Warming in the Pacific Ocean changes the rainfall in various regions of Brazil.

"The Midwest and part of Southeastern Brazil are located in a climate transition zone, where it is difficult to predict the consequences of El Niño. It may rain above or below normal. The degree of uncertainty is very large," says Sentelhas. "We can only say that there is a trend of above-average rainfall in the South and drier climate in the Northeast."

For Robles, the phenomenon is positive. "El Niño brings out the best setting for the first Brazilian crop,” he says. “The phenomenon will ensure a good distribution of rains in the main producing areas of grain."

However, he says that nobody knows what will be the effects of it next year. "El Niño may lose strength and impair the second crop of corn," he explains.


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