Brazil farmers see higher soybean yields in Mato Grosso as harvest kicks off -crop tour

By Ana Mano

SAO PAULO, Jan 22 (Reuters) - As harvesters start collecting Brazil's most prized agriculture commodity, soybeans, yields and output in the fields of Mato Grosso are positively surprising farmers, according to observations from an analyst at Agroconsult who traveled in the region last week.

After surveying fields around the world's soy soybean capital Sorriso and close-by grain towns including Sinop, Fabio Meneghin, an Agroconsult partner and agribusiness consultant, said initial field work show soybean yields between 10% and 15% higher than last season.

"As farmers started harvesting the early soy, yields are looking good and positively impressing producers," Meneghin said in a telephone interview late on Tuesday. "While a drought caused soybean planting delays, after sowing the weather has been generally benevolent."

Agroconsult has estimated Mato Grosso would produce some 34 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2019/2020 cycle, but he said that projection may be increased pending a final analysis of the bean samples collected in the fields.

Brazil will harvest some 124.3 million tonnes this season, according to pre-crop tour projections by Agroconsult, up from 119 million tonnes in the previous cycle.

Even considering Mato Grosso's output may be higher than forecast, it is early to say whether the country's total projection will be adjusted as dry weather in the south of Brazil may damage soy fields.

Brazil's soy farmers harvested 1.8% of the area through last Thursday, potentially reducing the ideal window for planting of the country's second corn that is sowed after the oilseed is collected.

Yet observing fields upclose, Meneghin said soy harvesting in Mato Grosso, which planted a record area of almost 10 million hectares this season, may finish earlier than expected because hot weather is causing dissecants to act faster. He said the situation means a lot of soy is ready for harvesting at the same time, creating short-term logistics challenges.

After speaking with some 30 producers during five days last week, Meneghin also noted business is booming in towns like Nova Mutum, Lucas do Rio Verde, Sapezal and Campo Novo do Parecis due to a favorable exchange rate and strong export demand for Brazilian soybeans, which mainly go to China.

"We spoke to farmers who said they had sold 80% of their crop. None of those we talked to had traded less than 50%," Meneghin said. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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