BRASILIA, BRAZIL — Despite a drier than average start to the planting season, Brazil is forecast to produce a record soybean harvest in 2020-21, according to an Oct. 7 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The USDA projects soybean output to reach 131 million tonnes this year, up from 125.6 million tonnes in 2019-20.

Planted area expansion is expected based on unprecedented domestic soybean prices.

The USDA noted that at the start of 2020, soybeans were selling for around 80 reais per 60-kilogram sack. By March, prices had risen to more than 100 reais per sack and topped out at nearly 130 reais per sack in August.

“Delays in planting notwithstanding, (USDA) maintains its forecast for soybean planted area expansion at 38.5 million hectares for 2020-21, up from 36.9 million hectares this past season,” the USDA said.

The USDA is projecting an increase in soybean exports in 2020-21 to 85 million tonnes, which would top the previous record of 83.7 million tonnes set in the 2017-18 marketing year.

China is expected to remain the top importer of Brazilian soybeans, notwithstanding the phase one trade deal between the United States and China that was announced in December 2019.

The USDA has revised its soybean crush forecast for Brazil in 2020-21 upward to 45.5 million tonnes. The revision is based on an increase in available supplies as well as an increase in demand for soybean products.