SAO PAULO, March 10 (Reuters) – Heavy rains in March caused losses to

the soybean crop in Brazil’s No. 5 producing state Mato Grosso do Sul,

although preliminary estimates of losses were still sketchy.

Mato Grosso do Sul received over 300 millimeters (12 inches) in the

first eight days of March, more than double the monthly average of rainfall

that the state gets for all of March, independent weather forecaster Somar

said Thursday.

“The rains in Mato Grosso do Sul have now become much weaker now, but

many low-lying areas that were flooded will take a long time to dry out,”

meteorologist Celso de Oliveira of Somar said.

He said soy had spoiled or sprouted in the pod in many areas. “In some

areas, there is nothing left to do — it’s a complete loss,” he said.

He added that many soy areas in the state are flat, those that are

flooded will require time to dry out and many of the rivers that feed the

area are still rising due to rains at their sources.

“Those in higher areas have already resumed harvesting soy with the

return of sunny weather yesterday,” Oliveira added.

Earlier on Thursday, the government released its official monthly

forecast of the new grains crop, which estimated that Mato Grosso do Sul

would account for 5.4 million tonnes of the country’s record 70.3 million

tonne harvest.

A report from the local Globo News television showed isolated scenes of

flooded fields in Mato Grosso do Sul and said that some areas were

reporting potential losses of up to 40 percent of their crops.

The Mato Grosso do Sul state agricultural secretariat said that it

would release a preliminary estimate of the impact of the rains on state’s

grain crop later on Thursday.