Dry weather in a number of Brazil's soybean-producing regions prompted AgRural, a local farm consultancy, to lower its 2013-14 crop forecast to 88.8 million metric tons from the 89.5 mmt predicted in December.
The greatest damage from a dry spell in December and part of January was seen in Mato Grosso do Sul and Goias, said the consultancy. As a result, it cut forecast average yields in Mato Grosso do Sul by 7% to 43 bushels per acre and in Goias by 4% to 45 bpa.
AgRural is the first consultancy to lower its Brazilian soybean number on the dry weather, putting its figure at the bottom end of the range of market estimates of between 89 mmt and 92 mmt.
Rains have returned to the drought-hit areas in southern Mato Grosso do Sul over the last couple of weeks, offering sustenance to crops in development but coming too late for early planted, short-cycle soybeans, said the consultancy.
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In Navirai, southern Mato Grosso do Sul, yields will fall to 36 to 40 bpa, it said.
The southeast of Goias state went through a dry period in December and early January, causing crops in Rio Verde, the main soy municipality in the region, to lose 8% of their yield potential, the consultancy said. However, rains have returned in recent days, which will stem losses in the state.
In most other parts of Brazil's vast soy belt, the excellent conditions that have marked this soybean season continued to prevail last week.
Despite some heavy showers last week, harvest efforts picked up pace in Mato Grosso, Brazil's No. 1 soy state. Some 4% of the crop had been collected as of Friday, said AgRural. Fieldwork is most advanced in the west of the state, where 8% has been harvested.
Early yield figures are pretty good across the state. With 15% of the crop harvested, farmers in Sapezal, western Mato Grosso, are registering average yields of 48 bpa. In Sorriso, northern Mato Grosso, yields of between 40 and 58 bpa have been reported on the 5% harvested.
In Parana, the No. 2 state, rains fell over the last week, aiding the recovery of crops in the north that had suffered during a December dry spell but hampering harvest efforts in the west.
In Rio Grande do Sul, the No. 3 state, the lack of rain in December stunted the growth of plants. But rains over recent weeks have allowed crops to recover. With most of the crop still in vegetative development stages, there is still a long way to go for soybeans in Brazil's southernmost state.
Precipitation will diminish in most regions this week, aiding harvest efforts, according to Somar Meteorologia, a local weather service. Further rainfall is expected to arrive in the south next week, it added.
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