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Brazil’s 2017/18 Soybean Crop Seen Second-Biggest in History

By José Roberto Gomes

SAO PAULO, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Benefited by good weather, Brazil’s 2017/18 soybean crop, which farmers are now beginning to harvest, is expected to surpass 110 million tonnes, the second-largest in history, according to the average of 11 forecasts in a Reuters poll on Friday.

Farmers here are likely to collect 110.19 million tonnes of the oilseeds this season, above the 109.43 million tonnes from a previous Reuters poll in November and below last year’s all-time record of 114 million tonnes.

Planted area is expected to reach 34.90 million hectares (86.23 million acres) based on the average of forecasts, also a historical record as soy advanced over areas previously planted with corn this summer.

Practically all forecasters either revised projections upward or kept estimates for yet another bumper harvest in Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of soybeans, poll data showed.

Farmers started sowing their soy in September but because of a drought in certain regions, the work only gathered steam the following month. This may potentially delay harvesting in certain areas, analysts say.

“For the time being, the general conditions are very good for the crop,” said Flávio França Junior, partner at consultancy firm França Junior Consultoria. In Rio Grande do Sul rains returned after a drought, with analysts not expecting major damage to the crop there.

“Even with delays in planting ... currently the conditions are very favorable and the weather is contributing to a positive outlook,” said an analyst at INTL FCStone.

Through January 19, Mato Grosso, Goiás, Paraná and the northern farming frontier of Matopiba may receive accumulated rain volumes surpassing 100 millimeters, according to data from the Agriculture Weather Dashboard.

In Rio Grande do Sul, though, rains are not expected to surpass 34 millimeters in the period.

CORN

Corn farmers will reduce area and output this year as prices of the cereal have lagged, forecasters said.

The area planted with corn in the Brazilian summer is expected to drop by 11% in the 2017/18 period from the prior cycle, to 4.88 million hectares, causing production to fall 17% to 25.27 million tonnes, they said.

Demand for the cereal in the face of a smaller crop is expected to shore up prices of corn domestically to an average between 31 reais ($9.58) and 32.90 reais per bag, up from 30 reais in the previous season, according to projections from Rabobank.

(Reporting by José Roberto Gomes; writing by Ana Mano; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Nick Zieminski)

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