Brazilian soybean producers have begun to plant what is expected to be a record 2007-2008 crop, but dry weather has slowed the early planting campaign in the center-west soybean belt, private analysts Celeres said Monday.

By Oct. 5, 1% of the national crop, forecast to reach 63 million metric tons, had been planted, Celeres said in its weekly planting report. This is behind the 2% planted by the same time last year.

Dry weather in the early planting region of the center-west has foiled producers' plans of getting a quick start to planting this year. No widespread rain is forecast for the first half of October in the region.

The top soybean growing state of Mato Grosso is the only state that has registered early planting, with 2% of the state crop sown, behind last year’s pace of 6%.

Producers in the north and west of the state, where some early isolated showers fell in the past weeks, have begun planting. However, they may have to replant if general weather patterns do not start to bring regular widespread spring rains soon.

No. 2 soy state Parana should start planting soon, but producers are awaiting regular rains, as well. At this time in 2006, the state had planted 2% of its crop.

Producers in the center-west states of Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul, which rank No. 4 and No. 5 respectively for soy production, had already started planting by this time in 2006 with 2% of their crops sown.

Only the No. 3 soy state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil’s far south has seen abundant rainfall in past weeks but producers there do not normally start planting until November.

However, most of Brazil's farming regions will start to see some rainfall by the end of the month, Paulo Etchichury, chief meteorologist for the Brazilian forecasting firm SOMAR, the local Estado newswire, reported. Improved rains are badly needed; soil moisture is becoming depleted as groundwater levels start to vanish.

Groundwater levels in Minas Gerais, northern Sao Paulo, Goias, Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul are down to around 10%, with some areas of Minas Gerais and far north Mato Grosso nearly completely dry, according to SOMAR. However, some relief is on the horizon for soy, grain and coffee farmers later in the month.

Editor’s note: Richard Brock, The Corn And Soybean Digest's Marketing Editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.