Southern Brazil reaps record soy to offset center-west crop failure

A record soybean harvest in Brazil’s southernmost state should offset losses in the drought-hit center west, keeping a lid on prices in the world’s largest producer and exporter and slowing the pace of sales, according to local farmers and cooperatives.

Rio Grande do Sul will produce 68% more soybeans this season than last, according to estimates from national crop agency Conab, which said Thursday the state would regain the post of Brazil’s No.2 producer after Mato Grosso. Another state crop agency Emater projects a record crop of 22.25 million metric tons, up 71.5% from a year ago.
That marks a dramatic comeback after two straight years of drought in southern Brazil and neighboring Argentina. In the current crop, the El Nino weather pattern has hammered soybean farmers in Brazil’s top-producing state of Mato Grosso but compensated with strong yields in the south.


Brazil will produce an estimated 146.5 million tons of soybeans this season, according to Conab, which had forecast 162 million tons in October, before the strong El Nino ravaged fields in center-west Brazil. In Mato Grosso, where Conab forecasts a drop of 7.5 million tons in soy production this year, global grain merchants often buy directly from farmers. But in Rio Grande do Sul they tend to deal with cooperatives set up in the late 1950s initially to help wheat producers store and sell the crop, said Enio Schroeder, vice-president at Cotrijal, the state’s largest farm coop, with more than 16,000 members.

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Reporting by Ana Maro and Diego Vara via Reuters

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