* Brazil soy crop estimate raised from April to 66.7 mln tns
* Corn crop seen up from April at 65.9 mln tns
* Analysts say ministry overdid earlier cuts in estimates
(Adds details from report, analyst comment)
By Reese Ewing
SAO PAULO, May 10 The soybean forecast from
Brazil's agriculture ministry on Thursday bounced back by more
than a million tonnes, after the government overshot in April
when it slashed more than 3 million tonnes from an earlier
estimate of the drought parched crop.
The ministry's crop supply agency Conab said in its eighth
forecast of Brazil's grain output that the 2011/12
(September-October) soybean crop would reach 66.7 million
tonnes, up 1.1 million tonnes from the agency's April estimate
of 65.6 million tonnes.
The April estimate had be cut by more than 3 million tonnes
from March. Brazil harvested a record 75.3
million tonnes in 2010/11.
"I was fearful of this last month," said agricultural
consultant Kory Melby based in Goias. "They dropped it far too
Conab did not give details on why they decided to raise
their forecast after dropping it sharply in past months.
Soy futures prices have firmed since December, as
markets fear dwindling stocks and strong demand for the
important source of protein from China could put pressure on
food prices and trigger civil unrest.
Conab said Brazil should export 31.1 million tonnes of
soybean, down from the 32.99 million tonnes last year.
Drought that started in November in Brazil's southern grain
states, common under La Nina weather patterns, erased over 10
million tonnes from the current crop's potential, considering
the expanded area planted with soy this season.
Area planted expanded 3.5 percent from last season to a
record 25 million hectares (61.8 million acres), Conab said. But
average yields were a dismal 2.665 tonnes a hectare, the lowest
in six years.
The southern states took the brunt of the drought. No. 3 soy
growing state, Rio Grande do Sul, will put out a dismal 6.5
million tonnes, down 44 percent from the record 11.6 million
last season. It is one of the last major states to harvest and
it is days away from finishing.
No. 2 soy state Parana harvested 10.8 million tonnes, down
30 percent from the record 15.4 million last season.
Partially offsetting the losses in the south, No. 1 soy
state Mato Grosso raised output by 6 percent to a record 21.7
million tonnes and No. 4 producer Goias rose 3.4 percent to 8.5
million tonnes, Conab data showed. The two center-west states
have been done harvesting for more than a month.
Less impacted by the drought, Brazil's corn crop is
mushrooming into record territory as firm international prices
entice producers to invest more heavily in fertilizers and seed.
Conab said Brazil would harvest a record 65.9 million tonnes
of corn, up 15 percent from the 57.4 million tonnes last year.
It had forecast the current crop at 65.1 million tonnes in
Most of the crop goes to feed the local pig and poultry
industry but Brazil has become the third largest exporter of the
grain in recent years after the United States and Argentina.
Conab sees corn exports this season at 10.5 million tonnes,
up from 9.5 million last year.
(Reporting by Reese Ewing; Editing by John Picinich and