Soybean planting  continues to advance swiftly in both Brazil and Argentina amid favorable weather conditions, boosting prospects for 2011-2012 South American production.
The private Brazilian consulting firm Safras & Mercado pegged Brazilian planting progress at 66% as of Friday compared with a five-year average of 55%. Rival consultancy Celeres put planting progress at 58% in a report released Monday.
Safras estimated that 86% of the crop in the top growing state of Mato Grosso had been planted, along with 82% of the crop in No. 2 producer Parana.
Argentine soybean producers had planted 30% of their crop by Nov. 13, according to the country’s agriculture ministry, which noted recent rains had recharged soil moisture. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimated Argentine planting progress at 25%, up from 12.5% a week earlier.
Although favorable planting conditions have created optimism about soybean production  prospects, attractive corn prices could limit soybean plantings and output.
Brazil’s agriculture ministry last Wednesday lowered its estimate of that country’s soybean production to roughly 71.5-73 million metric tons (mmt) from an October estimate of 72.2-73.mmt citing corn prices and potential for crop problems due to the La Niña weather event.
However, USDA  raised its own estimate of Brazil’s crop by 1.5 million tons to 75 million tons on the same day.
While it is still early in the growing season, there have been few weather problems in Brazilian soy areas so far.
Soils dried out under dry conditions most of last week, but most of Brazil’s large center-west growing belt is expected to see favorable rains over the next two weeks.
"Crop conditions will improve in the dry pockets in northern Brazil during the next two weeks and soil moisture levels will become favorable in nearly all locations in time," World Weather Inc said in a Monday morning report.Rains moved into dry southwestern Mato Grosso over the weekend.
Far southern Brazil will dry out over the next two weeks, but subsoil moisture should limit the negative impact on crops there.
Argentina is expected to experience mostly favorable crop conditions over the next two weeks as soil moisture is good in the wake of significant rains there.
Editor’s note: Richard Brock, Corn & Soybean Digest's marketing editor, is president of Brock Associates, a farm market advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report.