In its first estimates of Brazil’s 2008-2009 crop production, the supply arm of Brazil’s agriculture ministry projected soybean production will range from steady to 2.1% higher than last year, while corn production will fall by 4.5%-6.1%.

The National Crop Supply Agency (CONAB) pegged Brazil’s next soybean crop at a record 60.10-61.27 million metric tons (mmt), up from last season's 60.02 mmt, the Agriculture Ministry said Wednesday.

Area planted to soybeans is expected to rise to 21.5-21.9 million hectares, up 1.3%-3.2% from the 21.3 million hectares planted last year.

CONAB’s production estimate is lower than most private estimates out of Brazil and below USDA’s most recent Brazilian crop estimate of 62.5 million tons.

CONAB said the corn crop would fall to 55.03-55.98 mmt from 58.6 million last season due to lower plantings. Area planted to corn was pegged at 14.4-14.6 million hectares in 2008-09 compared to 14.7 million hectares in 2007-2008.

Higher production costs for corn are expected to push more land into soybeans. However, soybean producers have seen their margins eroded by high fertilizer prices and lower soybean prices, which is expected to limit soybean acres and result in reduced fertilizer usage, limiting yields.

Brazil’s cotton lint crop was projected at 1.43 mmt to 1.53 mmt, down from the 1.6 million harvested this year.

Brazil's 2009 wheat crop, which is now being harvested, was estimated by CONAB at 5.79 mmt, up from the 5.4 mmt forecast in September and the 3.82 million harvested last season.

Brazil's total grains output for the new crop was projected at 142.03 million to 144.55 mmt, compared with 143.8 million in the 2007-2008 crop year.

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