Dry weather last week allowed farmers in Argentina and southern Brazil to make good soybean harvest progress and conditions are expected to remain mostly favorable there this week.

Argentina’s Agriculture Ministry estimated that by April 8, producers had harvested 28% of the estimated 18.6 million hectares (46 million acres) they planted to soybeans, up from 13% a week earlier, but still behind last year’s harvest pace of 39%.

In the San Francisco district of the top soybean-producing province of Cordoba, yields were “good or very good at 3-4.5 metric tons (mt)/hectare in general,” the Ministry said. That equates to roughly 44.6-67 bu./acre.

In the Bolivar district of Buenos Aires province, crop quality was good with yields averaging 3 mt/hectare, the Ministry said.

Earlier in the week, the ministry said 2009-2010 soybean production was on track to reach a record level of 55 million metric tons, well above the previous record of 48.8 million tons set in 2006-2007.

USDA on Friday raised its estimate of Argentina’s soybean crop by 1 million mt to 54 million mt.

Brazil’s soybean harvest was 77% done as of Friday, up from 73% a week earlier and ahead of the five-year average pace of 66%, according to the private analyst Safras & Mercado.

In Brazil’s southernmost soy growing state of Rio Grande do Sul, harvest advanced to 43% done compared with 30% a week earlier and the five-year average of 28% done.

Harvest is winding down across most of Brazil’s major growing states. Safras estimated harvest progress at 99% in the top soybean state of Mato Grosso and 90% in No. 2 Parana. Harvest is now complete Mato Grosso do Sul and Sao Paolo states.

USDA on Friday raised its estimate of Brazil’s soy production by 500,000 mt to 67.5 million mt.

Earlier in the week, CONAB, the supply division of Brazil’s agriculture ministry cut its estimate slightly from 67.5 million mt to 67. 4 million mt, while Brazil’s census bureau, the IBGE pegged production at 67.3 million mt, up from a previous estimate of 67.1 million mt.

The U.S. agricultural attaché in Sao Paolo currently pegs the 2009-2010 Brazilian crop at 67.25 million mt and has issued a preliminary production forecast of 67.5 million mt for the 2010-2011 crop, which will be planted starting in September.

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.