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Brazil's soy crop seen at record 115.6 mln T

SAO PAULO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Brazil's 2017/18 soybean crop is expected to reach 115.6 million tonnes, a record volume, 1.2 percent above the previous record last year of 114.2 million tonnes, according to an updated forecast on Monday from consultancy Safras & Mercado.

Safras raised its previous estimate, released in December, by 1.7 million tonnes due to expectations of better yields in states such as Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais and São Paulo. Conditions in Mato Grosso and Paraná, the two leading producers, are not as good. Heavy rains there have made harvest difficult and delayed field maturation.

The projection from Safras is the second-highest among top independent analysts in Brazil, only behind the forecast from AgRural of a crop of 116.2 million tonnes.

Safras said total planted area with soybeans in Brazil reached 35.25 million hectares (87.1 million acres) in the current crop, 1.44 million hectares more than the previous, which compensated for an expected smaller average yield per hectare.

The consultancy expects Brazil to produce 89.46 million tonnes of corn this season, 17 percent less than last year, as planted area falls 11 percent and yields are projected to come down as well.

Paulo Molinari, an analyst with Safras, said producers have decided to invest less in the corn crop due to low prices, which will result in reduced tonnage per hectare. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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