By Alastair Stewart
DTN South America Correspondent
SAO PAULO, Brazil (DTN) -- A commission of Brazil's Agriculture Ministry will discuss whether to ban the practice of double-cropping soybeans following the sharp growth in area this season.
Brazilian farmers double cropped soybeans in unprecedented numbers in 2014.
Second-crop soy area reached approximately 600,000 acres this season, double the year before, but yields were disappointing.
Agronomists are concerned that second-crop soybeans offer an ideal environment for disease such as Asian rust and pests such as the Helicoverpa armigera caterpillar to pass the winter, leading to higher populations in summer crops, greater chemical resistance and higher input costs.
In the face of this threat, Agriculture Ministry's crop health commission will this week meet in Varzea Grande, Mato Grosso to discuss whether to ban the practice.
"Successive planting of soybeans is irresponsible ... principally due to the need for exaggerated use of chemicals," according to Wanderlei Dias Guerra, coordinator of the commission.
He warns double cropping is unsustainable agronomically and financially.
While the agronomic community appears behind the ban, farmers' groups are not willing to condemn the choices of their members.
Indeed, recently the Mato Grosso Soybean and Corn Growers Association (Aprosoja/MT) issued agronomic recommendations for planting second-crop soybeans.
"The decision to plant lies with the producer, and should be made in responsibly, respecting sanitary obligations," said Nery Ribas, technical director at Aprosoja/MT.
Currently, farmers are not allowed to plant soybeans between June 15 and Sept. 15, but that leaves enough time to sow after early summer soy harvesting in January and February.
In Mato Grosso alone, second-crop soy covers around 250,000 acres. Second-crop soybean area exploded because of poor prices for the principal second-crop option, corn.
Brazil will plant 4%-5% more acres of soybeans in the upcoming 2014-15 season, despite the recent decline in prices.
Alastair Stewart can be reached at email@example.com
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