The Argentine soybean crop will set a record after all, boosted by late rains and relatively high prices of the oilseed, which have boosted its appeal over corn in farmers' planting plans.
Argentine growers will in 2013-14 harvest 57.5m tonnes of soybeans, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Buenos Aires said – a figure 4.0m tonnes higher than the department is officially banking on.
A crop at that level would overtake the all-time harvest of 54.5m tonnes set in 2009-10.
The bureau's forecast is also above figures many other commentators are factoring in, with the International Grains Council last week nudging its number 500,000 tonnes higher to 55.0m tonnes, a figure in line with Oil World's estimate.
The bureau's forecast reflects an estimate for plantings of 20.5m hectares, some 800,000 hectares more than the USDA is factoring in.
"There is unanimous consent among the industry that area will be above 20m hectares - some contacts even maintain forecasts above 21m hectares," the bureau said.
The Buenos Aires grains exchange last week raised its forecast by 250,000 hectares to 20.45m hectares.
Extra soybean area is expected to come at the expense of corn, for which seedings were curtailed by dry weather last month, the ideal corn-sowing time in many areas.
Farmers who missed this window, "will either plant late season corn, which yields less, or plant soybeans", the bureau said.
Corn prices vs soybean prices
The allure of soybeans, for which sowings will continue into January, is being boosted by price incentives too.
"The issue this season is the fact that corn prices are dropping at a faster rate than soybean prices are dropping," the bureau said.
"This, along with higher costs of production for corn, makes corn a less profitable, more risky crop and it is likely many will switch to soybeans which have low input costs in comparison."
However, the extra soybeans will not boost much Argentina's exports of the oilseed itself in 2013-14, which the bureau pegged at 10.0m tonnes, some 440,000 tonnes more than the official USDA figure.
Argentina crushes most of its crop domestically, and is in fact, by a margin, the world's top exporter of soymeal and soyoil.
Argentina is the world's third-ranked soybean producer, behind the US and Brazil.