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SAO PAULO: Brazil’s soybean area will likely grow at a slower pace than in previous years because farmers in the world’s largest producer face a looming fertilizer shortage, an agribusiness consultancy said on Thursday.

Andre Pessoa, partner at Agroconsult, told a press conference Brazil’s soy area has been consistently growing between 1 million and 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) annually, a level unlikely to be seen when farmers sow their next soybean crop because of global supply disruptions related to Western sanctions on providers including Russia and Belarus.

“We now estimate between 500,000 hectares and 1 million hectares of soy area growth,” Pessoa said. “Given the current scenario, it would be closer to 500,000 hectares of area expansion.”

After surveying soybean fields in large farm states, Agroconsult experts said Brazil’s soy production will fall almost 11% to just below 125 million tonnes in 2022.

The drop is related to a severe drought that impacted farmers in southern states including Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul, where average yields fell by 38.7% and 56.2%, respectively.

In Center Western states, on the other hand, farmers were able to improve yields, according to Agroconsult data. In top grain supplier Mato Grosso, for example, average yields rose almost 5% to 60.7 60-kilo bags per hectare, even considering rains disrupted harvesting in some parts of the state, Agroconsult said.

The consultancy also estimated Brazil’s second corn production at 92.2 million tonnes this season, referring to the cereal that is planted after soy is reaped on the same fields, and which represents 70-75% of total corn output in a given year.

Agroconsult will survey corn fields over the next few weeks.

If its second corn forecast is confirmed, Brazil’s second corn production will have grown by a whopping 52% from the prior season, when output was dramatically reduced by drought and an ill-timed frost.

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