The news of a dry Midwest August is all over the Brazilian headlines. Combined with a rising U.S. dollar, it makes soybeans look much more lucrative this year to Brazilian producers—especially those with unsold corn sitting under tarps out in fields.
In a year that can't figure out whether it's El Nino or La Nina, the rainfall that usually doesn't even start timidly until it can scatter small-town crowds at local Independence Day parades on September 7, has already begun in places like Lucas do Rio Verde, Mato Grosso.
That area and Sorriso, in the same state, are the two places that typically vie for the title of first-planted soybeans in Brazil each season.
And it looks like the planters will be rolling in those places on September 15 when the state's no-soy period—a 90-day window when producers have to deny a host to Asian Soybean Rust on their farms—ends.
Producers there like to get early beans in early, in order to allow for corn planting behind the combines in plenty of time for the corn to get past the danger point should those early-starting rains also turn out to be early-ending rains.
Mato Grosso corn production costs remain well above prices, but many producers are locked into the rotation. Those who can't readily switch to second-crop cotton know they'll be planting corn despite low prices—which just might be better than otherwise, given the dryness of the Midwest in August.
We ag writers focus a lot on the second crop, but it's worthwhile to remember that corn planters following right behind the bean combines is not the norm across Brazil. Double-cropping that way is usual in Mato Grosso, and becoming the new normal in #2 soybean producer Paraná. But most Brazilian producers, in places like Goiás, Minas Gerais and Tocantins, just wait until November or December to plant a medium or long-cycle bean crop, followed by a winter crop like sorghum that can deal with the dry June and July weather.
Still, the race to get early beans in and out of Mato Grosso fields in time to get the corn done by mid-February is big news. Farmers in Brazil's top soybean state keep their eyes on the skies at this time of year—and they never make plans to be away from the farm.