By Alastair Stewart
DTN South America Correspondent
SAO PAULO (DTN) -- Brazilian soybean planting advanced five percentage points over the past week to reach 94% complete as of Friday, Dec. 6, AgRural, a local farm consultancy said.
Field work is now virtually complete in the top-producing center-west and southern regions with the northeastern state of Piaui the only area with a significant area still to plant at 50%, it said.
Overall, the crop continues to develop well and has the potential to produce high yields, with dryness concerns limited to a couple of regions -- most notably northern Parana and Piaui, said the consultancy.
In the center-west, rains supplemented soil moisture levels across the whole of Mato Grosso, the No. 1 soy state, last week, correcting some of the dryness in the south of the state. On the negative side, humid conditions in the north of Mato Grosso are
raising concerns about the aggressive development of the Asian rust fungus, which has already been identified in numerous farms.
In neighboring Mato Grosso do Sul, rains have been patchy in December but the crop still looks good, said AgRural.
In Parana, the No. 2 state in the south, the crop is also in generally good shape, although some of the northern reaches could do with more rain, particularly around Cornelio Procopio. In the west of the state, soybean plants are already closing out rows and looking healthy. This region only needs a couple more days of decent precipitation and a good crop is guaranteed, said AgRural.
In Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state in the far south, planting moved forward 16 percentage points over the last week to reach 90% complete following substantial showers.
According to Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service, the forecast for the next two weeks is for heavy spring showers in the center-west but sparser precipitation across the southern grain belt.
FORWARD SOYBEAN SALES SLUGGISH IN NOVEMBER
Forward sales of Brazilian soybeans were relatively sluggish in November.
As of Nov. 30, Brazilian farmers had sold 39% of their projected 2013-14 soybean crop, up five percentage points on the month but well back from the 59% sold at the same point last year, according to AgRural, a local farm consultancy.
Over the last two years, farmers have sold much more of their crop ahead of the harvest but this year are reverting back to a slower pace as most are well capitalized and have been left unimpressed by prices since August.
Still, sales are ahead of the five-year average of 35% for the end of November.
Business has started to pick up in northern Mato Grosso and western Parana, where the harvest is just over one month away, said AgRural. But farmers in these regions will only start selling higher volumes if local prices return to August levels, when a weak Brazilian real and a hike in Chicago futures created a spike.
Alastair Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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