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Dry weather casts doubt over Brazil soybean export potential: ANEC

Sao Paulo — Recent dry weather conditions in several soybean planting areas in Brazil may cut volumes available for export in 2019, national grains exporters association ANEC said Wednesday.

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"We already know the trend for the crop is lower than last season. Our export estimates can be revised down due to weather issues," ANEC general manager Sergio Mendes said in an emailed statement.

He said the ANEC projection currently remains at 73 million mt for 2019, unchanged from December and down from the record 83.6 million mt seen in 2018.

Mendes added that data shows crop losses are expected in western Parana, southern Mato Grosso do Sul and some other areas in Brazil Center-West.

Brazil, the world's largest soybean exporter, started planting its 2018-19 crop at a breakneck pace in September and October.

Dry weather, mostly in December, during a crucial development phase for the plants, raised questions about whether Brazil would fulfill its potential harvest of 120 million mt, as projected in December by the national crop agency Conab.

Sources told S&P Global Platts that harvest is already in its initial stages in Mato Grosso, Brazil's largest grains-producing state, but added that it is too early to evaluate any loss. No official data is available yet for Mato Grosso.

In Parana state, the second-largest soybean producer in the country, state agriculture agency Deral said Wednesday that 5% of the area planted with soybeans has already been harvested, up from zero harvest at the same stage last year.

Following the New Year holiday, a round of fresh crop estimates is expected to be released soon, including from Conab and private analyst Agroconsult on Thursday. Analyst AgRural will publish an updated estimate later on Wednesday.

It is expected that weather-related losses could be incorporated in these new reports.

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CHINA

ANEC said the US-China trade war, which increased demand for Brazilian soybeans in 2018, casts uncertainty over 2019 exports.

"Despite the fact that Brazil benefited [from the trade war] with an extra volume of 10 million mt of soybeans imported by China, the unpredictability of the market in 2019 is not desirable for our industry," said Mendes about the ongoing US-China negotiations, which could boost soybean exports from the US to China and cut demand from Brazil. "We already have to handle so many variables, like weather, currency fluctuations and internal logistics issues," he said.

To highlight the relevance of China for Brazilian agriculture, ANEC said 97% of the soybeans exported by Brazil in November were bound for China.

CORN

ANEC said it expects 2019 corn exports to total 31 million mt, unchanged from December and up from 23.56 million mt in 2018.

Brazil plants two corn crops every year, the first being concurrent with the soybeans summer crop and mostly used for domestic consumption. A second or winter corn crop called "safrinha" is mostly destined for the export market.

So far, the outlook for the second corn crop remains positive, as it will be planted in coming weeks, according to analysts.

--Gustavo Bonato, gustavo.bonato@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jennifer Pedrick, newsdesk@spglobal.com