Brazil's agriculture ministry on Tuesday forecast that country’s 2007-2008 (Oct./Sept.) soybean crop to rise to a record 59.1 million to 61.9 million metric tons from an estimated 58.4 million tons in 2006-2007.

The estimate from CONAB, the supply arm of the agriculture ministry, was the first preliminary forecast for Brazil's upcoming crop, which producers will begin planting this month in some areas of the country.

USDA currently estimate’s 2007-2008 Brazilian soy production at 61 million metric tons against 2006-2007 production of 59 million tons.

Brazil's 2007-2008 corn crop was projected at 55 million tons, also up from 51.1 million tons in 2006-2007, said CONAB.

"Producers are flush with cash, so we expect an increase in next year's crop," Silvio Porto, CONAB logistics director told Reuters News Service.

On average, planted area for all grains in 2007-2008 should rise by 5%, Porto added.

Brazil's 2007 wheat crop, now being harvested in states such as Parana in the south, was forecast at 3.87 million tons up slightly from the 3.82 million projected in August.

"We are being conservative, cautious when talking about wheat yields," Porto said. Wheat harvest has not begun yet in states such as Rio Grande do Sul, he added.

CONAB agents will conduct field studies for the first 2007-2008 official wheat crop projection due to be announced next month.

CONAB also increased its projection of corn exports to 8.5 million tons from last month's estimate of 7.5 million tons.

The agency said the impact of a drought on corn production in western Mato Grosso state, the country's larges grain producer, was not as big as expected last month.

"Brazil is becoming a large corn exporter," Porto said.

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.