Heavy rains in a major Brazilian agricultural state are disrupting the final stages of soy and corn harvests. By Reuters

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By Ana Mano and Roberto Samora

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Heavy rain in Brazil’s second-largest soybean and sixth-largest corn state is disrupting the final stages of the harvest, a meteorologist bulletin on Thursday, a grain broker and an analyst said.

Historically, soybean farmers in Rio Grande do Sul would have harvested 83% of the area by now, but heavy rains have disrupted work, state harvest agency Emater said.

Still, the state’s soybean crop had reached 76% of planted acreage as of Thursday, an increase of 10 percentage points from the previous week, Emater said in its weekly crop report.

When severe flooding hit southern Brazil, Chicago soybean yields rose to their highest in more than three weeks.

“Heavy rainfall in Rio Grande do Sul has already caused numerous disruptions and losses,” said Marco dos Santos, a meteorologist from Rural Clima. Santos cited losses in soybean, corn and rice areas.

The heavy rains, which are likely to continue throughout the weekend, with a break between Sunday and Monday, have flooded rural and urban areas, blocking roads and destroying infrastructure.

A new cold front should bring more rain to Rio Grande do Sul from May 9, Santos said. He noted that lower rainfall amounts are expected as that system forms, but added that any rain on extremely wet ground “is chaos.”

In southern Rio Grande do Sul, an estimated 40% of the soybean crop has yet to be harvested, the broker said. In the north, about 80% to 90% have been harvested, he added.

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Santos said rain will continue in much of the northern part of Rio Grande do Sul, as well as in the south of neighboring Santa Catarina.

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“These very extensive rain showers, without sunny periods for the grain harvest, always cause a loss of quality,” says Adriano Gomes, grain analyst at consultancy AgRural.

Rio Grande do Sul is expected to produce 68% more soybeans this season than last, according to estimates from national harvest agency Conab for Brazil’s second-largest producer after Mato Grosso state. Emater expects a record harvest of 22.25 million tons, an increase of 71.5% compared to a year ago.

According to local authorities, at least 13 people have been killed by the rain, while 21 are missing.

On Wednesday, a national holiday in Brazil, the state government warned that the situation was critical and could deteriorate further.

About 83% of Rio Grande do Sul’s corn acreage was harvested on Thursday, up 1 percent from the same time last week, according to Emater data.

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