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February 5, 2016

Conab Lowers Brazilian Soybean Estimate, Increases Corn Estimate

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

In their February Crop Report, Conab lowered their estimate of the 2015/16 Brazilian soybean crop while increasing their estimate of the 2015/16 corn crop. The survey for this report was conducted from January 17-23.

The 2015/16 Brazilian soybean crop is now estimated at 100.9 million tons or 1.2 million tons less than last month. If achieved, it would still be a record production surpassing last year's production of 96.2 million tons. Brazil's soybean acreage is now estimated at 33.2 million hectares (82.0 million acres) or 3.6% more than last year. The soybean yield is estimated at 3,037 kg/ha (44.0 bu/ac) or 1.3% more than last year's 2,998 kg/ha (43.4 bu/ac).

The main reason for the lower soybean production estimate are reduced expectations for the soybean crop in Mato Grosso. Hot and dry conditions in November and December impacted the early maturing soybeans that were filling pods during that period. Conab now estimates that the soybean yield in Mato Grosso will be 3,004 kg/ha (43.5 bu/ac) or down 4.2% compared to last year. In their January report, they estimated that the yield would be down 2.9% compared to last year.

The weather in southern Brazil has been exceedingly wet this growing season and Conab is reporting a strong presence of diseases such as soybean rust and insects in the region. The wet weather is expected to impact the soybeans in Rio Grande do Sul where the soybeans acreage increased 3.9%, but the yields are expected to be down 1.2% compared to last year. The state of Parana is faring much better where the acreage is up 4.2% and the yields are up 3% compared to last year.

An area of Brazil where the soybean crop is yet to be determined is northeastern Brazil where dry weather delayed the soybean planting. After the rainfall picked up in early January, some of the earlier soybeans were replanted while some farmers actually opted to plant corn instead of soybeans. The critical period for these late planted soybeans will be March and April when the crop will be filling pods.

The full-season corn acreage in Brazil declined 6.8% compared to last year to 5.7 million hectares as farmers opted for more soybean production instead. The yield of the full-season corn is expected to be above expectations in Rio Grande do Sul, but slightly lower than expectations in Parana. The problem in Parana was excessive rainfall and cloudy conditions during pollination. The full-season corn crop is now estimated at 28.3 million tons or 5.8% less than last year and it would represent 34% of Brazil's total corn crop.

Conab is now estimating that two thirds (66%) of Brazil's total corn crop in 2015/16 will be safrinha production. This is the first monthly report that Conab conducted a survey for the safrinha corn crop, but they were very tentative with their safrinha corn estimate. The safrinha corn acreage is estimated at 9.6 million hectares or up only 0.7% compared to the 9.5 million hectares planted last year. They commented that it was too early to estimate the safrinha corn acreage in Mato Grosso which they kept unchanged from last year. The problem in Mato Grosso was dry weather that delayed the soybean planting and subsequently the soybean harvest. The situation for the safrinha corn crop in Parana is much more positive and they indicated that the safrinha corn acreage in the state would increase 6%. They left the nationwide safrinha corn yield unchanged from last year at 5,717 kg/ha while the total safrinha corn production is up 0.7% to 54.99 million tons.

Brazil total corn crop is now estimated at 83.3 million tons or 1.6% less than the 84.6 million tons produced last year.