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Mato Grosso's sluggish soy harvest pace continues to pull down Brazil's average


Mato Grosso soy harvest at 34.5% versus 73% last year

Exports to remain sluggish in February

New Delhi — The sluggish pace of Mato Grosso's soybean harvest is expected to continue holding back Brazil's overall national harvest progress for the week ending Feb. 19, sources told S&P Global Platts Feb. 22.

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Soybean harvesting activities in the state of Mato Grosso -- Brazil's top soy producer and exporter -- have been off to the slowest start in the past few years due to heavy rain since mid-January.

Rain over the past few days in Brazil has been fairly widespread, with the heaviest rainfall amounts of 3-6" (75-150 mm) favoring northern and central Mato Grosso, central Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, and western Minas Gerais, weather agency Maxar said Feb. 17. The continued heavy rainfall across northern growing areas stalled soybean harvesting and safrinha corn planting, particularly in northern and central Mato Grosso and Goias, it said.

While sufficient rainfall is extremely beneficial to a soybean crop's early and middle-stage development, it hinders the maturity of late-stage planted beans, leading to significant harvest delays.

According to the Mato Grosso Institute of Agricultural Economics, or IMEA, 34.51% of the projected soybean acreage of 10.3 million hectares had been harvested in the state for the 2020-21 marketing year (February 2021-January 2022), up 12.5 percentage points on the week, as of Feb. 19.

Compared with the previous years, the pace of soybean harvest in the state was abysmally slow. In 2019-20, Mato Grosso's soybean harvest was at 73.18% and the five-year average was seen at 57.96% for the same period, IMEA report said.

The stagnant pace of soybean harvest is expected to put further pressure on Brazilian soybean exports in February and continue to support US soybean prices, analysts said. Harvest delay in Mato Grosso was seen as a boost to US soybean exports.

Brazil -- the world's largest soybean exporter -- shipped out 0.55 million mt of soybeans in H1 February, compared with 1.92 million mt in the same period last year, Brazilian foreign trade report said. Given the slow harvest progress in Mato Grosso, the Brazilian exports in the second half of February doesn't look to increase much.

In February 2020, Brazil shipped out 4.8 million mt of beans in total. However, the soy exports in the current month is not likely to cross 4 million mt, analysts said.

Mato Grosso accounted for 27% of Brazil's total soybean acreage for 2020-21 and its slow soy harvest pace is likely to bring down the national harvest average for the week ending Feb. 20, analysts said.

Although the January rainfall has been severely impacting harvesting activities, it has boosted output projections on optimism over improved crop quality.

The rain led to improvements in soil moisture across much of Brazil, however, favoring any late soybean growth in far southern Brazil and germination and early growth of safrinha corn in northern and central Brazil, Maxar said.

Mato Grosso is expected to produce an all-time high 35.49 million mt of soybeans in 2020-21, IMEA said.

Similarly, Brazil is likely to produce record soybean tonnage for 2020-21 of 133 million mt, according to average analysts' estimates.