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  • James Thompson

    Brazilian Safrinha Corn Gets Needed Moisture

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on April 11, 2014

    2013-14 soybeans? That's so yesterday for most Mato Grosso farmers right now. Most are eyeing their Safrinha (second-crop corn) this week, and just praying the rains continue long enough to make that crop a go. Even in southern Brazil, producers like Rodolpho Botelho, who haven't quite finished up those last beans that may have been planted into wheat stubble, have got one eye on the cost of inputs and the other on the sky, hoping for rains that will at least last until the second-crop…

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  • James Thompson

    No Brazilian Logistics Meltdown, Yet

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on March 28, 2014

    What a difference a year makes, our high school baseball coach used to say at the hopeful outset of each losing season. And while the slogan lost some of its motivational power by my junior year, it's holding true so far for Brazilian exporters who lost a reported $2.5 billion last year after dozens of Chinese cancelations. Back then Brazil was hit by a "perfect storm" of factors that led to dozens of ships bobbing at anchor off the two main soybean ports, at a cost of something…

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  • James Thompson

    Brazil's Infrastructure Likely to Worsen

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on March 11, 2014

    Brazilian Ag consultant Céleres has cut its projection of U.S. 2013-14 soybean production by six percent—to 84.9 million tonnes, lower even than USDA's guess of 88.5 million tonnes. Meanwhile back in Brazil, Céleres says 36% of Brazil's bean crop has now been harvested, and half of it sold. Yields are looking good in Mato Grosso state despite too much harvest-time rain. However, the January-February dry weather in southern Brazil hit production hard. A Mato Grosso…

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  • James Thompson

    South Americans Hold Off on Bean Sales

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on February 14, 2014

    I got an e-mail from Iowa the other day, asking about Argentine producers holding off on selling beans. It's true, I said. But it's also true in Brazil. Mato Grosso farmers are about 11 percent behind last year in selling their 2013-14 beans. One reason for that is they are better-capitalized than ever at the moment, and part of it may be old-fashioned optimism that prices will just continue to rise into the future. But, in the spirit of due diligence, I picked up the phone for some…

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  • James Thompson

    In Brazil, Some Yields Fall Short

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on February 7, 2014

    Here's an insight to what Brazilian farmers are thinking about now. Last week, Chicago prices were said to be down nine percent versus the same week of last year, but Brazil's local currency—the real—was up 14 percent against the U.S. dollar, according to The Mato Grosso Agricultural Economics Institute. So Brazilian producers were happy to hold onto their expected 2013-14 soybean production a little longer in the hopes of further strengthening of the dollar, or of stronger…

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  • James Thompson

    South America Begins Soybean Harvest

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on January 24, 2014

    Mato Grosso started harvest of its early-planted short-cycle beans, with about four percent of Brazil's largest soybean-producing state harvested (though that number will bump up on Sunday or Monday, when a new report comes out.) Western Mato Grosso producer Ademir Rostirolla said his neighbors are getting around 44½ bushels per acre, and are following the combines with planters—though those planters will carry less corn this season, and more cotton, popcorn and field…

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  • James Thompson

    Brazil’s Agricultural Explosion Continues in 'Mapitoba'

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on January 14, 2014

    I've done it. I somehow convinced the editors of Farm Futures to run my story on "Secrets of the Brazilian Mega-Farmers" in the January issue. So check out the print version of Farm Futures – in mailboxes soon. The story includes coverage of how farmers from Brazil's southernmost—and most immigrant-heavy—state came to lead the agricultural revolution that made the South American country out-produce us in soybeans. But as I put the article together, I ran…

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  • James Thompson

    Brazil's Higher Fuel Costs Hurt Ethanol

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on December 18, 2013

    Understanding Brazil's fuel and biofuel markets is like trying to figure out what the heck that South African sign language interpreter was saying at the Nelson Mandela funeral. That's partly because, even though Brazilian petroleum fuel pump prices are among the highest in the world, they are also in effect subsidized at the wholesale level. After all, pump prices are a key part of the group of goods whose monthly price variations are added to economists' calculations of—All…

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  • James Thompson

    China Buys More Brazilian Corn

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on November 21, 2013

    It's really too early to talk about Brazil's second-crop corn, what with soybean planting only now coming to an end there. Even the two agencies that project the size of Brazil's crops won't go near making an estimate yet. For one thing, planting won't start until at least mid-February, and local corn prices in Brazil right now are hardly promising. They were $3.11 in Paraná state last I checked. And the statewide average cash price up in Mato Grosso last week…

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  • James Thompson

    Brazilian Bean Planting Shuts Down

    South American Crop Watch

     by James Thompson
     on October 2, 2013

    Most in Brazilian agriculture pay special attention to those wild folk up in northern Mato Grosso state. They are always the first to get soybeans in the ground each season. Some producers in Sorriso, Lucas do Rio Verde and Nova Mutum, Mato Grosso even plant their seed before the no-soy period ends on September 15, knowing that the law doesn't keep them from having beans below ground before that date. Why the rush? Their hurry to get early varieties in early allows them to follow…

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