November 30, 2009

 

Asian crop disease may hurt Brazil soy output

 

 

Brazil's soy output may be hurt next year after a fungal disease known as Asian Rust infected plants at an earlier stage than usual in the season, a government researcher said.

 

Eleven cases have been reported at commercial farms in five Brazilian states, compared with zero such incidents in the same period last year, said Claudia Godoy, a researcher at the government's agricultural research agency known as Embrapa.

 

Godoy says above-average rains allowed the early and rapid spread of the disease.

 

Efforts to contain the disease have improved since 2004, when Brazilian farmers lost 4.6 million tonnes due to Asian Rust, equal to about 8.5 percent of the expected crop that year, she said. Last year, the fungus damaged about 420,000 tonnes.

 

Soy output in Brazil, the second largest producer after the US, may rise to as much as 63.6 million tonnes next year, the Agriculture Ministry forecast on November 5. Planting is under way now, with the harvest set to start December 25.

 

Asian Rust has been spotted during the flowering stage in some varieties of soy that take less time to develop, Godoy said.

 

Brazilian farmers spent about US$2 billion in fungicides to fight the disease last year, according to Embrapa.