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Brazil lifts soybean harvest forecast, despite talk of insect resistance to sprays and GM seed

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Brazilian officials lifted hopes for the country’s soybean output, despite some worries over pest resistance to genetically modified crops, even as Argentina’s harvest received a downgrade, highlighting the countries’ diverging fortunes.


Conab, the official Brazilian crop bureau, raised by 1.01m tonnes to 110.4m tonnes its forecast for the newly-started 2017-18 soybean harvest, taking it closer to the record 114.1m-tonne crop reaped last season.


The revision, which follows a series of upgrades by brokers to their harvest forecasts, reflected improved expectations for output in the key Centre South region, including in Parana, the second-ranked growing state, which received a 360,000-tonne upgrade, reflecting improved yield expectations.


The upgrade followed a rainy November in the state, although the elevated soil moisture levels, in discouraging plants from developing extensive root networks, had raised concerns that crops could be vulnerable to any drier shift in the weather pattern.


‘Insect resistance to GM seed’


However, the biggest upgrade, of 655,000 tonnes, came to the forecast for output in Mato Grosso do Sul, where production is now seen reaching 8.05m tonnes.


Conab raised its estimates for both sowings and yield in the state, where it flagged “expectations of a good harvest”, despite October dryness which delayed seedings.


The upbeat forecast also defied reports of insect pests gaining resistance to genetically modified crops.


“This has worried farmers, because in most crops, the crop is in the advanced stage of development, and it is not possible for machines top gain access to apply insecticides,” Conab said.


The bureau also noted reports of insecticides losing efficacy, “although there are still no records of significant crop losses, because the phase more prone to damage, pod filling, is just beginning”.


‘Losses in the area could continue’


Conab’s upgrade to its forecast for soybean spurred the bureau to lift by 1.0m tonnes to 65.0mm tonnes its forecast for Brazil’s exports of the oilseed in 2017-18, although this still represents a decline on the 68.15m tonnes shipped last season.


The revisions came hours after the Rosario grains exchange lowered by 2.5m tonnes to 52m tonnes its forecast for Argentine soybean production in 2017-18, after persistent dryness which has prohibited some sowings, particularly in more norther areas.


“There is soy that has not been planted in Buenos Aires province,” the exchange said.


“The planting window is starting to close, and the losses in the area could continue if the rains that growers are expecting do not materialise.”

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