Brazil's weather improved last month in time to boost hopes
for safrinha corn, but not to prevent further losses to soybean crops, US farm
officials said, explaining revisions to their harvest estimates.
The US Department of Agriculture, explaining a downgrade of
1.0m tonnes to 87.5m tonnes in its forecast for Brazilian soybean production in
2013-14, said that rains had not arrived in time to reverse drought damage to
all crops in the drought-hit south.
"Rains arrived by mid-February and rain have continued in
March providing much needed relief, especially in Rio Grande do Sul," the USDA
said, in a report which comes a day before Brazil's official Conab bureau is
set to reveal its own revised forecasts.
"In the other states, however, soybean yield potential did
Conversely, in the western state of Mato Grosso, Brazil's
top soybean producer, heavy rains had extended into March, "causing yield
losses [and] some quality damage".
'Off to a good start'
However, the recent rains had supported prospects for yields
of safrinha corn – planted on land vacated by the soybean harvest - in all
states, if delaying sowings in Mato Grosso, the USDA said, explaining a
2.0m-tonne increase to 72.0m tonne in its forecast for Brazil's overall corn output.
have been receiving beneficial, above-average precipitation," the USDA said, adding
that the safrinha crop had got "off to a good start".
"Production is raised due to better yield potential for
safrinha (second-crop) corn."
The safrinha corn harvest - which is particularly sensitive
to rival exporters as it is the main source of Brazilian export supplies – will
nonetheless prove smaller than last year thanks to weaker sowings, with price
differences driving farmers to soybeans instead, in many cases for the first
time as a second crop.
South Africa record
The USDA also raised its estimate for the South African corn
harvest, which it said would show a record yield of 4.38 tonnes per hectare "due
to timely and well-above-average rainfall during February and March in the
western and central Corn Belt when the crop was in the critical pollination and
A field trip last month "observed good-to-excellent crop
conditions, with interviewed farmers and traders reporting a bumper harvest
expected for most regions", after drought had threatened crops early in 2014.
Satellite imagery showed that yields should come in "well
above-average in the central and western part of the country".
The estimate for South African corn production was upgraded
by 1.0m tonnes to a 23-year high of 14.0m tonnes, a rise of 1.6m tonnes year on