Brazil Crop Estimates Rising

Estimates of Brazil’s 2006-07 soybean crop are on the rise with crop scouts reporting record yields in many growing areas.

The private analyst Celeres on March 5 pegged the crop at 58 million metric tons, up from its February forecast of 57 million tons and USDA’s current forecast of 56 million metric tons.

“The continuation of favorable weather during the whole month of February prompted us to raise our estimate of yields in the eighth 2006-07 soy crop report," Celeres says.

Yields are expected to reach 2,785 kg/hectare (41.4 bu./acre), up 12% from last year's drought parched crop and up 1.2% from its February estimate, Celeres says.

Regular and abundant rains continue to favor the development of the soy crop in practically all growing regions, Celeres says, although grain quality and harvest suffered in some isolated areas of Mato Grosso state due to late rains.

Agronomists for another private crop analyst, Agroconsult, which is conducting a national crop tour, say that Brazilian farmers will harvest record soy yields.

Production averages in states like Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana are easily over 50 60-kg bags per hectare, says Andre de Bastiani, an agronomist at a local agribusiness consultancy leading the crop tour in Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana this week.

"Mato Grosso do Sul soy yields were surprising to us: 50 bag yields are going to be fairly common nationwide," de Bastiani told Dow Jones Newswires.

In Agroconsult's last, pre-tour crop estimate, 2006-07 production was pegged at 56.7 million metric tons, while the Brazilian Vegetable Oil

Industries Association, or Abiove, has pegged this season's crop at 57.1 million tons. "This crop is going to be much bigger than that," says de Bastiani.

The Agroconsult tour found yields up sharply from last year in Brazil’s No. 2 soybean growing state of Parana.

Many farms in Parana were said to be averaging yields of between 54 and 70 60-kg bags per hectare (48.2-62.4 bu./acre) compared to just 40 bags per hectare (35.7 bu./acre) in 2005-06, when the state was hit by drought for the second year in a row.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that of 19 farms visited throughout west and north Parana between Friday and Sunday, 11 properties had yields of 54 bags or more, with six of those properties having fields yielding well over 60 bags per hectare.

Roughly 20%-25% of Brazil’s soybean crop had likely been harvested through the end of last week.

Celeres estimated on Monday that 21% of the Brazilian soybean crop had been harvested by March 2, ahead of the year-earlier pace of 16%.

The harvest advanced 7 percentage points last week with the help of sunny weather that allowed beans to dry out and producers' combines into the field to collect areas ready to harvest.

In Brazil's main soy area of the center-west, 37% of the crop had been collected compared with 28% a year earlier, Celeres said. In the No.1 soybean state of Mato Grosso, 42% of the crop had been harvested, up from 30% a week earlier and 31% a year earlier.

Another private analyst, Safras & Mercado, pegged harvest progress as of March 2 at 18%, up from 13% a week earlier and a five-year average of 13%. Safras pegged Mato Grosso harvest progress at 38%, vs. a five-year average of 25%.

Safras noted that after a long period of surplus rain registered in central Brazil, last week was marked by regular weather conditions and a mostly normal harvest pace.

"With that, thus far, the crop losses are limited to northern Mato Grosso and isolated problems of lower yield potential in the wake of Asian rust," said Safras & Mercado analyst Flávio França Júnior in a report on the firm’s Web site.

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.

To see more market perspectives, visit Brock's Web site at www.brockreport.com.