Prospects for the Brazilian soybean harvest this season have
deteriorated a touch, but the country will in next year produce the biggest
crop of the oilseed ever, and lift exports nearly to 1m tonnes a week.
The US Department of Agriculture bureau in Brasilia became
the latest of a series of commentators to cut estimates for the ongoing
Brazilian soybean harvest, citing dryness which had afflicted at last some
areas from December to February.
"Drought-reduced yields brought down the national
productivity and production levels," the bureau said, citing southern states
such as Mato Grosso do Sul and Paraná as particularly affected.
The crop estimate was estimated at 88.0m tonnes, 500,000
tonnes below the official USDA forecast, although still a record, and above
figures from many other commentators.
Brazil's crop bureau, Conab, last week cut its forecast to
85.44m tonnes, with consultancy Celeres foreseeing an 84.94m-tonne harvest.
However, the bureau predicted a sharp rise in output next
season, to 97m tonnes, a record for any soybean harvest anywhere, thanks to an
increase in sowings of more than 2.3m hectares, and a boost to yields from
"Most analysts and farm groups believe that land expansion for
2014-15 soybean planting is a certainty," as farmers plough up pasture.
Areas such as north eastern Mato Grosso, and the north east
region of Mapitoba, an acronym of the first two letters of Maranhão, Piauí, Tocantins
and Bahia states, look ripe for expansion in soybeans.
A harvest of this extent would come in line with the
3.55bn-bushel (96.6m-tonne) harvest that the USDA has forecast for the US this
However, the US will prove no match in soybeans exports on
2014-15, with its shipments, estimated at 1.6bn bushels (43.5m tonnes), short
of the 50.0m tonnes that the bureau forecast for Brazil.
It is also far more than the 42.3m tonnes of Brazilian
soybean exports for the season that the USDA forecast in its long-term Baseline
estimates report, released last month.
The increase, from 46.0m tonnes expected this season, is based
on expectations of "sustained prices and continued strong global demand",
besides the strong harvest.
The bureau said its forecast also reflected on ideas of an extension
of Brazil's soybean export season, traditionally lasting from February to June,
into January and July. Indeed, exports last month set a February record of 2.8m
The forecast is also based on an expectation of improvements
to Brazil's notoriously inadequate infrastructure.
Data last week showed that 63 ships were waiting to load
with soybeans or soymeal at the port of Paranagua, equivalent to a wait time of
about 53 days.
Projects underway include the BR-163 road linking Mato
Grosso, the top soybean producing state, in the west of Brazil, north to the
port of Santarem, on the Amazon.
This port itself is expected to double capacity by the end of
next year, allowing soybean volumes to reach 2m tonnes, up from the current
In north east Brazil, the port of Itaqui, the first phase of
construction of a 10m-tonne grain terminal is timetabled to finish next month, handling
5m tonnes. Separately, construction has also begun on the West-East railroad,
connections Mato Grosso to Atlantic ports.