Brazil's soybean export season has only just started and already massive queues of ships are amassing at the ports, waiting to load grains.
Port line-ups indicate that there are almost double the number of grain cargoes due to be loaded at Brazilian ports over the next six weeks compared with at the same point last year.
According to SA Commodities, a Santos-based brokerage, exporters have scheduled 10.4 million metric tons of grain, meal and oil shipments between now and early April, almost double the 5.5 mmt registered at the same time last year.
Of those shipments, some 8.7 mmt are soybeans, meal or oil, or nearly double the 4.8 mmt named last year. But the big difference is the amount of corn nominated, about 1.6 mmt, up nearly fourfold from the same time last year.
The main reason for the massive logjam is that the devaluation of the Brazilian real has allowed Brazil to be extremely aggressive on the soy and corn market over the last nine months and trading firms are looking to squeeze in as many shipments as possible. The real fell nearly 50% in 2015.
The other key factor is that second-crop corn exports, which normally dry up in January, have leaked into February. Part of that is due to loading delays following heavy rains in November and December in Paranagua and Santos, the main grain exit points.
The plain truth is that Brazilian ports will struggle to cope with this type of volume. Indeed, the waiting time to load at Paranagua has jumped to around 50 to 60 days compared with 20 days at this time last year.
At least the delays will allow farmers more time to delivery soybeans from their delayed soybean harvest.
As of Friday, Brazil's soybean crop was 16% complete, according to AgRural.
Brazil will ship 55 mmt of soybean in 2016, up 1 mmt on last year, according to the Brazilian Soy Industry Association (ABIOVE).
Alastair Stewart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow him on Twitter @astewartbrazil
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