April 6, 2004



Brazil 2003-04 Soybean Production Forecast Lowered

Brazilian agricultural consultants Celeres lowered its estimate for the local 2003-04 (October-September) soybean crop to 54.03 million metric tons in its latest forecast released Monday due to continued drought in the south of Brazil and outbreaks of the yield-sapping Asian rust fungus in all the main producing regions.
The forecast was reduced from 56.17 million tons in March but is higher than recent local estimates. Two weeks ago, Safras e Mercado lowered its 2003- 04 estimate to 52.28 million tons while AgRural dropped its figure to 52.02 million tons.
With a 13.7% jump in planted area, production remains 3.0% higher than the 52.48 million tons produced in 2002-03, said a report from Celeres.
According to Anderson Galvao Gomes, Celeres soy analyst, losses over the last month were focused in the south where drought has been widespread. The estimate for Rio Grande do Sul was lowered by 1.40 million tons in the latest report, while the projection for Parana state was reduced by 333,000 tons.
Further losses are still possible with only half the harvest completed, he added.
The weather and rust attacks mean average Brazilian yields will be 9.5% lower than last year at 2,552 kilograms per hectare.
Losses to the soybean crop will have a knock-on effect to exports, which are now projected at 22.5 million tons for 2004-05 (February-January), down one million tons on the month before. The crush forecast was also reduced by one million tons to 30.4 million tons.
Meanwhile, year-end soybean stocks will be reduced to 2.31 million tons
from 2.95 million last year.
At the start of the year, ideas that Brazil would have record carryover stocks of as much as 5 million tons were weighing on prices.
The soybean harvest is 57% complete, ahead of the 48% collected at the same time last year and the five-year average of 51%.

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