By Lin Tan
DTN China Correspondent
MATO GROSSO, Brazil (DTN) -- Though many areas still lack rain, Brazilian farmers are rolling their planters after they received scattered rainfall. They are now waiting for more rain to come.
"I had finished half of my soybean planting and (am) waiting for more rain," said Ricardo Arioli Silva, who farms at Campo Novo in Brazil's largest soybean-producing state of Mato Grosso.
Farmers were planting the irrigated land around Sept. 15; whenever rain comes and improves soil moisture, they will plant more. Some farmers will risk planting even if they hear of rain in the forecast. "My neighbor was planting some of his beans in the dry land, and hoping to catch the rain next week, but there is a risk of replanting if the rain does not come," said Silva.
So far, the east side of Mato Grosso is still dry and many farmers have not been able to start yet, said Silva, "Hope the rain will come next week or early November, as the weather forecast said." Silva and his brother farm more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) in Campo Novo.
DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino, in his Ag Weather Forum blog, said "after some moderate to heavy rains early in the month initiated more soybean planting, the pattern has turned hot and dry. There is no indication at this time of a return to more rainfall. This situation has likely already led to a slowing of planting and could end up forcing some replanting if it continues."
"We have planted 48% on our property, but we stopped since last Saturday," said Clayton Tessaro, who farmers near Sorriso, Mato Grosso. "There is not enough rain at this moment."
Planting progress is slow in eastern Mato Grosso. "We've done around 8%," said Dustin Gheld. "Not too bad, compared to last year's 10% in the same time. But, there is no forecast for rain until Oct. 25. If it rains, we will still be able to catch up." Gheld farms 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) in Querencia, Mato Grosso. If the rain does not come at the end of the month, soybean planting will delayed, and then the second-crop corn-growing window has to be compromised, added Gheld.
Mato Grosso farmers can plant soybeans any time from this September to May next year. However, farmers would like to plant soybeans as early as possible to leave enough rainy days for the second-crop corn. If soybean planting is delayed, corn crops may not have enough growing days in the wet season and can't mature before the dry season arrives.
The weather is not cooperating, compared to last year. However, Brazilian farmers still want to plant more soybeans this year. "Soybean is more profitable than corn, after a bumper harvest of corn last season. Corn price is only USD$4.75 per bag (that is US$2.01 per bushel) at the elevator, far less than farmers' expectation," added Silva. Brazilian farmers sell their grain in 60-kilogram bags.
CONAB released its estimates for the 2017/18 crop year that call for a 2.7% increase in plantings this fall, to 35.2 million hectares (almost 87 million acres). Production is pegged from 106.0 million to 108.2 million metric tons. The old-crop production ran for 114.0 mmt. CONAB also calls for a 10.1% drop in first-crop corn plantings this year. They see total production this year, both first- and second-crop corn, from 92.2 mmt to 93.6 mmt, down from this year's 97.8 mmt.
"There is some new acreage converted from pasture land in my area, but there are some farmers converting corn fields to soybean in south of Brazil, because of the low corn price now and the big production of old-crop corn we had this year," said Tessaro.
"Last year's situation was too good for Brazilian farmers -- the only year farmers can plant soybean in the optimal planting window," said Thiago Piccinin, CEO of Lotus Grains and Oilseed, a trading company in Sao Paulo. "So far, planting progress is still at the average pace, and the farmers are patient for new rain forecast."
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