More positive news emanated from South America on the soybean crop over the last 24 hours.
Brazil's Agriculture Ministry announced a small increase in its 2013-14 crop forecast, while the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange said it could raise its Argentine planted area projection over the next couple of weeks as farmers switch acres from corn and sunflower.
BRAZIL PEGS SOY CROP A TAD HIGHER
Earlier Friday, Brazil's government increased its soybean crop projection to 87.9-90.2 million metric tons (mmt) from 87.6-89.7 mmt last month, based on a small upward adjustment in the planted area figure.
The government estimates area will expand by 3.7% to 6.5% as the oilseed muscles onto corn areas in the south and expands onto newly converted crop acres in the Cerrado.
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With the crop approximately half planted, beans are enjoying 'very favorable' weather conditions in the south but rains have been spotty in the top-producing center-west region, said the ministry. However, the uneven distribution of rains in Mato Grosso and the rest of the central west do not represent a threat to yields, it added.
Not everything in the garden is rosy, though. The report highlighted two crop threats.
Farmers have crop health issues, it said, presumably referring to the high populations of caterpillars, particularly the corn earworm, identified in center-west and northeastern fields. This situation will inevitably mean increased spending on chemicals, which will pressure margins, it added.
The ministry also identified in Mato Grosso a problem with short-cycle soybean seeds, which are planted as early as possible to allow time for a second crop of corn.
Heavy rain during the first part of the Mato Grosso soybean harvest last season hurt seed production, creating a shortage in some areas and quality issues in others, leading to some replanting.
UPWARD BIAS ON ARGENTINE SOY AREA
In Argentina, the Buenos Aires Cereals Exchange announced late Thursday that it was maintaining its 2013-14 soybean area forecast at 49.9 mmt but sent out an alert that the figure may be raised in the next few weeks.
Argentina suffered a very dry winter and early spring. Heavy rains have returned over the last couple of weeks, but it may have come too late for farmers to plant corn and sunflower. That area could be partially planted with soybeans, for which the season has only just started.
Up until Thursday, some 10.7% of projected soybean area had been planted and field work was moving forward briskly following the rains, said the exchange.
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