The U.S. attache in Brazil has lowered its estimate of the country's soybean crop to 82.5 MMT, which is 1 MMT below USDA's current estimate but would still represent a record crop. The attache says the reduction comes due to dry conditions during pod fill in Bahia and Mato Grosso do Sul. It says at the end of February, harvest was around 40% complete, 15 percentage points ahead of the five-year average.
The attache also notes shipping delays at Brazil's "deficient" ports. It reports "loading wait times reaching 50 days at the second largest grain port located in the state of Parana and could reach 60-day wait times over the next few months mirroring the longest wait times of past years." Mirroring what we have reported, the attache says truck transportation costs have increased between 25% to 50% compared to last year due, in part, due to a new trucking law which limits driving time.
The attache expects Brazil's 2012-13 soybean exports to reach a record 39 MMT but says labor strikes by port workers, currently suspended until March 15, are adversely affecting the rate of exports of the record soybean crop. "Wait times for ship loading are not uncommon during the peak of harvest in Brazil. However, they have never been seen to this degree so early in the season, they normally begin to lengthen in March or April. At the largest port, Santos, Sao Paulo, a couple of berths ar e not operating at full capacity with grain loaders under repair/replacement," says the attache. "Last week, the rail line leading into the port of Santos experienced a landslide rendering it impassable for an estimated week of repair time. Many traders have halted scheduling the line-up of future ship loading since they are unable to accurately determine when ships will be able to dock."