Brazilian farmers begin seeding soybeans amid historic drought

Fabio Mattioni Tractor and planter moving across field of corn stubble
PLANTING IN BRAZIL: Mato Grosso farmer Fabio Mattioni plants soybeans.
Water shortages and another La Niña could hurt South American production.

In Mato Grosso, Brazil, farmers have started the seeding process amid concerns over one of the worst droughts in a century. The country is already facing severe water shortages from last year’s dry conditions. And now, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a report affirming that there is a 70% chance of La Niña returning between November 2021 and January 2022.

Since rains have been unstable, Mato Grosso farmer Fabio Mattioni says, “The seeding this year is a little early, and we have already planted 20% of expected soybean acreage. Rains are irregular and weather conditions are worrying, because not only is there a lack of water, the temperatures are above 95 F. This same time last year we had not started seeding yet.”

Meanwhile down south

Henrique Marasca, a farmer from Rio Grande do Sul, a big rural state located in southern Brazil, says soybean planting won’t begin until mid-October. His farm, located in Independência, is second generation and the two sons are responsible for the technical coordination of the farm.

At Marasca’s farm, they are preparing to harvest wheat before soybean seeding can begin. “The scenario is of hope, especially because grain prices have stayed strong in the past few months,” he says. “The biggest risk is lack of rain, but we hope the weather behaves similar to 2020.”

La Niña worries

If NOAA’s La Niña forecast comes true, the month of September would see isolated rains in Brazil. Only in October would rain levels potentially increase and help reverse the water crises that has been going on in the country. The phenomenon is expected to last until March of 2022.

The current forecast for La Niña is very similar to the one from this same time last year.

“This forecast, despite being a little worrying, makes us comfortable, because we had a very good harvest last year, since the weather stayed dry until the end of October and then the rains started,” says Marasca.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Farm Progress. 

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