Bob's Blog

The Bounty of Brazil

This could be our best year ever" stated 31 year old Jose Roberto, Administration manager for Fazenda Barcelona near Luis Eduardo Magalhaes in Brazil's state of Bahia. World cotton prices are booming and 60% of the fazenda's 9,000 hectares are planted to cotton. They also grow 2200 ha of Soys and 1350 ha of Corn. "The weather has been just right during the growing season" he continues "and we hope to start soybean harvest around March 5. About 50% of the soy crop is forward priced and we are optimistic that yields will exceed our farm average of 3780 kg/ha (57 bu/ac)."

The crops certainly looked good in the field. And, despite rains at the time of our visit to the farm, there were no visible signs of Asian rust as all farmers in Brazil's Cerrado are now applying 2 or 3 sprays to combat the disease. In fact, despite adding U$20 to U$25 / ha to production costs for each application, these sprays are also controlling other diseases and resulting in greater than anticipated yield increases.

But when it comes to spraying, this fazenda has another advantage. Their own 200 HP airplane is fuelled with ethanol and guided by GPS which applies fungicides at the rate of 10 litres/ha and insecticides at the rate of 5 litres/ha in a 22 metre swath. It's fast and effective. Herbicides are applied with ground sprayers. .

Brazil appears poised to set more agricultural records in 2011. The soybean crop is expected to top 70 million tonnes due to good yields and an increase of 2.8% in the planting area. And the total Brazilian harvest in the grains sector should yield 153 million tonnes........... an expected increase of 2.6% over last year. Total ag exports in 2011/12 are estimated to increase by 10% to U$ 85 billion with the largest percentage increases in corn (+70%), sugar (+52%) and coffee (+38%) over 2009/10 crop exports.

Yes, Brazil's bounty knows no bounds.

Bob Thomas

Feb 18, 2011