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June 22, 2017

Soy Production in Uruguay Rebounds to Record High Production

The small country of Uruguay is the fourth largest soybean producer in South America following Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay and the country continues to expand its soybean production.

Farmers in Uruguay are very pleased with their 2016/17 soybean crop after what was a very disappointing 2015/16 growing season. According to the Department of Agricultural Statistics in the Ministry of Agriculture (DIEA), farmers in Uruguay planted 1.1 million hectares of soybeans in 2016/17. Of the total, 741,000 hectares were full-season soybeans and 362,000 hectares were second crop soybeans generally planted following the wheat harvest.

The nationwide soybean yield in 2016/17 is expected to be 3,026 kg/ha (43.8 bu/ac), which represents an increase of 56% compared to last year's yield of 1,930 kg/ha (28 bu/ac). DIEA is estimating that the 2016/17 soybean production will set a new record high of 3.33 million ton, or 51% more than last year's 2.2 million ton production.

Soybeans in Uruguay are general grown in two regions of the country. One region is the far northern border area with the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. The soybeans produced in this region are generally exported through the Brazilian port of Rio Grand. The other region of soybean production is along the western side of the country bordering on the Argentine province of Entre Rios. The soybeans produced in this region are generally processed or exported from ports on the Uruguay River or the Parana River in Argentina.

In addition to planting soybeans as a double crop after wheat, farmers in Uruguay have also been converting some of the traditional pasturelands into new soybean production.

I am currently estimating the total South American soybean production in 2016/17, which includes Brazil (113.0 million tons), Argentina (57.0 million tons), Paraguay (10.0 million tons), Uruguay (3.0 million tons), and Bolivia (3.1 million tons) at 186.1 million tons compared to 165.5 million tons produced in 2015/16. As a comparison, the USDA estimates that the 2016 soybean production in the United States was 117.2 million tons.