Jan 17, 2024

2023/24 Brazil Soybeans 2.3% Harvested, Yields Disappoint

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The 2023/24 Brazilian soybean crop was 2.3% harvested as of late last week compared to 0.8% last year and 1.1% average according to Patria AgroNegocios. This represents an advance of 1.7% for the week and it is the fastest harvest pace since 2017. Mato Grosso is most advanced in its harvest with 6.4% of the soybeans harvested. Hot and dry weather in central Brazil shortened the soybean growth cycle and reduced the soybean yield.

Last week, Conab lowered the 2023/24 Brazil soybean estimate 4.91 million tons to 155.26 million (see later article). The USDA lowered the Brazil soybean estimate 4.0 million tons to 157.0 million. Even though these estimates were lowered, they are still higher than most of the private estimates.

When the rainfall in central Brazil started to increase several weeks ago, I thought it might stabilize the crop by improving the later developing soybeans, but I am not quite so sure anymore. Reports from almost every state in Brazil indicate the early soybean yields are lower than expected.

Additionally, dry weather since mid-December in the south-central states of Parana, Sao Paulo, and southern Mato Grosso do Sul has negatively impacted what was probably some of the best soybeans in Brazil. Therefore, the 2023/24 Brazil soybean estimate was lowered 2.0 million tons this week to 149.0 million and I maintain a neutral to lower bias.

There is a very wide range of estimates for the 2023/24 Brazil soybean crop. Below are some of the private estimates as of last week. Almost every private estimate has been lowered in recent weeks.

Mato Grosso -The soybeans in Mato Grosso were 6.4% harvested as of late last week compared to 2.3% last year and 2.9% average. This represents an advance of 3.3% for the week. The harvest is most advanced in western Mato Grosso where 8.5% of the soybeans have been harvested.

The Soybean & Corn Producers Association of Mato Grosso (Aprosoja/MT) and Conab differ greatly on their estimates for Mato Grosso's soybean production. Aprosoja is estimating the state's soybean production at 35.7 million tons, whereas Conab is estimating the crop at 40.2 (a difference of 4.5 million tons). Aprosoja is estimating the yield at 50.2 sacks per hectare (44.8 bu/ac) which is down 21% from last year. Conab is estimating the yield at 54.8 sacks per hectare (50 bu/ac), which is down 12.8% from last year. Aprosoja's estimate is based on a survey of 1,003 landowners between January 5-11. The participants in the survey represent 1.7 million hectares of soybean production, or 14.5% of the soybeans grown in the state.

Below is the soybean harvest progress for Mato Grosso from Imea.


Parana - An extended period of hot and dry weather has started to take a toll on soybeans in the state of Parana, which was Brazil's second largest soybean producing state in 2022/23. Many areas of the state have not received significant rain since mid-December. The high temperatures during October-November-December shortened the soybean growth cycle by 10-15 days leading to fears of lower yields.

The Department of Rural Economics (Deral) estimates that 16% of the soybeans are maturing compared to 2% last year. Approximately 1.8% of the soybeans have been harvested compared to last year when the harvest had not yet started. As of earlier last week, Deral rated the soybean crop in Parana at 5% poor, 24% average, and 71% good. The percentage of the soybeans rated good is down from 86% the prior week.

In the municipality of Londrina in northern Parana, the last significant rain occurred on December 10th and the president of the Rural Union of Londrina estimates that soybean yields will be down 15% to 20% from initial expectations. The dry weather occurred as the earlier planted soybeans were filling pods, which is when the plant's water demand is at its greatest. Significant and repeated rains with good coverage will be needed over the next several weeks to avoid further losses.

In the municipality of Campo Mourao in western Parana the soybeans are 1-2% harvested with yields in the range of 40-50 sacks per hectare (35 to 44.7 bu/ac), which is down approximately 20% compared to last year when the initial yields were more than 60 sacks per hectare (53.6 bu/ac). The lower yields are the result of 30 days of high temperatures and scant rainfall since mid-December.

Rio Grande do Sul - The soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul are 99% planted according to Emater. The reduced rainfall and higher temperatures over the last two weeks have aided soybean development. The crop is 85% in vegetative development, 14% blooming, and 1% filling pods. Emater is estimating the statewide yield at 3,327 kg/ha (49.5 bu/ac).

Goias - The soybeans are 2.3% harvested in Goias and early yields are in the range of 25 to 30 sacks per hectare (22 to 27 bu/ac), due to the hot and dry weather that impacted the early maturing soybeans. The soybeans that were planted in November are expected to have higher yields, but the soybean production in Goias will not meet the initial expectations of 17.5 million tons.

Bahia - The planting window for soybeans in the state of Bahia was extended until January 10th due to dry weather delaying planting. The soybeans planted in western Bahia represent 4% of Brazil's soybean acreage and the soybean production in Bahia represented 49% of the soybean production in northeastern Brazil in 2022/23.

Rondonia - The soybean planting window in the state of Rondonia has been extended until January 20th for those farmers who were not able to plant due to dry conditions. While some farmers are still planting soybeans, the early soybean harvest is underway in the state. According to a scientist from Embrapa, the early soybean yields in the state could be down as much as 20% due to dry weather, heavy insect and disease pressure, and poor-quality seed.

The safrinha corn acreage in Rondonia could be down as much as 40% due to the delayed soybean planting. Farmers are reporting difficulty in finding cover crop seed to plant in place of safrinha corn.

Tocantins - Dry weather delayed the soybean planting in Tocantins; therefore, the soybean planting window has been extended until January 20th. The end of the soybean planting window was originally set for January 8th. The president of Aprosoja/TO estimates that the soybeans yields could be down as much as 20% due to the delayed planting and the need to replant soybeans outside of the normal planting window. The delayed soybean planting will also reduce the safrinha corn acreage in the state due to farmers opting for alternative crops such as grain sorghum and millet.