SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL — Soybean planted area in Brazil is forecast to set a record for the ninth consecutive year at 35.8 million hectares, according to an April 24 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The 2% increase in planted area in 2018-19 is due to expectations of higher process, higher-than-expected demand from Chinese buyers, and an increase in domestic soybean consumption, the report said.

Production is forecast to reach 115 million tonnes, which would be the country’s second largest soybean crop ever.

“Despite the record planted area, production is forecast slightly lower than the previous year based on yields trend,” the USDA said. “Productivity during the 2017-18 and 2016-17 seasons were way above trend because of ideal weather conditions throughout Brazil and excellent performance by new technologies in the market.”

The report said domestic crush is forecast at 44 million tonnes in 2018-19, with the increase being “a result of the continuation of the economic recovery in Brazil as well as expect demand.”

It said Brazil has an estimated crushing capacity of 62 million tonnes, of which 70% is expected to be utilized this year. As a result, no new investments in crushing facilities are expected in Brazil in the short term.

Soybean exports are forecast at 67 million tonnes, with strong demand expected from China, the report said. That is down slightly from last year’s export record of 69 million tonnes.