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SAO PAULO: Brazilian crop agency Conab on Thursday lowered the forecast for the country’s 2023/24 soybean and corn production citing the adverse effect of the El Nino weather pattern on crops.

The move follows successive grain production cuts by private forecasters.

Conab lowered Brazil’s 2023/24 soybean crop projection to 149.4 million metric tons from 155.2 million tons in a January report. Total corn production has been pegged at 113.7 million tons, below January’s 117.6 million tons.

The new estimated soybean production represents a drop of 3.4% compared to the output for the 2022/23 cycle, Conab said. The agency’s expectation for Brazil’s soy harvest was 162 million tons when the season began.

Lack of rains at the onset of the season in Brazil’s Center-West, Southeast and Matopiba regions, followed by irregular and poorly distributed rains, negatively affected crops, the agency said.

Conab cited dry spells lasting more than 20 days in some areas, in addition to high temperatures, as factors spoiling the soy and first-corn production in central Brazil.

First-corn production, which this season will represent about 21% of total output, also faced excess rainfall in the South of Brazil, Conab said.

Second-corn production, which is done after soybeans are harvested in the same areas, is also expected to drop by nearly 14% from last year, to some 88 million tons, on a smaller planted area and higher climate risk, according to Conab data.

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