Mercosur is rapidly becoming the world's main supplier of soybeans and the combined plantation of the four country members could be indicating a new production record of 100 million tons in the 2004/05 season.
The latest estimates from the four country members (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) give a clear idea of the boom in soybean planting, but also of the appearance of "rust" in several Argentine provinces and Brazilian states.
In Argentina an estimated 14,2 million hectares have been planted, almost the same as in the previous crop, and according to the United States Agriculture Department the total Argentine production of soybeans could reach 39 million tons.
In Argentina rain has been abundant but lower prices compared to last year could have influenced the total area planted.
But several outbreaks of soybean rust have been reported in Corrientes and Misiones, earlier than forecasted possibly because of excessive rainfall and hot weather conditions.
The Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture is expecting a crop between 61,4 and 63,2 million tons of soybeans, a formidable 25% increase over the 50 million tons of last year's crop, which was diminished by floods and rust in the north of the country and a drought in the south. However this year outbreaks of the rust fungi have appeared in eight states of the union mainly Matto Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Parana.
Paraguay with its estimated 4 million tons seems marginal compared to the two big Mercosur partners, but the landlocked country is the world's sixth producer behind United States, Brazil, Argentina, China and India and the fourth world exporter.
Finally Uruguay figures with a crop of 700,000 tons, which could represent double last year's crop which was rather poor, 380,000 tons, because of the intense drought. As to the area planted it has increased from 247,000 to 300,000 hectares.