SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — Brazil's soybean harvest is lagging last year's pace and the historical five-year average, agribusiness consultancy Datagro told Reuters on Feb. 18.

Brazil had harvested 9.1% of the soy area since this year’s harvest began around January, less than half of the 21.4% harvested at the same point in 2020 and compared to a historical average of 19.7%, Datagro told Reuters.

It said harvesting of summer corn advanced to 20.6% of the area in the Center-South states, slightly higher than 17.8% in the same period last year and above the 15.5% historical average.

While the drought caused planting delays in late 2020, constant rains over vast swathes of the soybean production area disrupted the harvest in the first weeks of 2021, Datagro said.

Brazil is the largest soybean producer and exporter in the global markets but demand from buyers such as China has dwindled Brazil’s domestic stocks, Reuters said.

According to the oilseed crushers’ association, Abiove, Brazil’s 2021 soybean imports will total 800,000 tonnes, up from 500,000 tonnes in its November projections.

Brazil’s ending stocks are forecast at 219,000 tonnes for this year and 419,000 tonnes for the following year.

Abiove expects Brazil to harvest 132.6 million tonnes of soybeans in 2021 but potential drought could impact output.

 Brazil is expected to produce 2 million tonnes less of corn than originally estimated in the 2020-21 marketing year, according to the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In a report released earlier this month, USDA forecast production at 105 million tonnes due to reduced yields for first-crop corn and a likely delayed planting for large portions of the second-crop safrinha corn.