Early Brazil yields vary widely

Beginning of the end of a challenging El Nino year for Brazil.

As combines start to get at the first of Brazil’s early beans, the 2015-16 harvest means the beginning of the end of a tough El Nino season.

Almost no matter where you live in Brazil, it’s alternated between too wet and too dry—but always too much of one or the other at exactly the wrong time.

The Brazilian consultancy AgRural said at the end of last week that 1.5% of the 2015-16 Brazilian soybean harvest had been completed, down from last season’s 3.5% for the same week of last year, and down a tad from the five-year average of 2%.

After starting the season with soakings that have called for replanting, it’s been mostly dry enough in southern Brazil lately, though frequent rains across the central part of the country’s production area have slowed harvest progress.

The local picture

So I got online with a couple of producers from different regions to ask them what’s up locally.

Jose Edigar Andrade farms in northeast Tocantins State, part of the new bean-growing frontier soon to be serviced by the North-South railroad. And since he’s not likely to harvest his beans until at least February 5, he’s leery about guessing on what his farm-wide yields will turn out to be. But since I wouldn’t let him get away without a guess, he broke down and said his farm-wide yield ought to end up this year at between 40 and 53 bushels per acre.

It’s a wide range, sure, but Jose Edigar is nothing if not cautious.

Meanwhile, down in Parana State, experts estimate harvest progress at 2.3%, versus 5% at this point of 2015. There, soybean producer Nelson Paludo says that initial yields of the early beans are 17 to 36 bushels per acre, as Paludo had to replant up to 3% of his soy area this season, with more than a third of his early crop showing a weaker stand than usual. “That will come up as harvest progresses,” he adds.

Mato Grosso early-bean producers have reported initial yields with similarly wild yield ranges, from a meager nine bushels per acre all the way up to 53, according to local news reports.

“It’s only a guess,” says Paludo, “but I’d say we’ll yield about 49 bushels per acre. Last year we got 53.”

Yields will be down, he says, because “This year’s beans got a lot of rain in November and December, with low luminosity. As a result, each bean weighs a little less.”

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