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August 24, 2020

Rare Frosts Impacting Wheat in Southern Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Farmers in southern Brazil encountered a very rare occurrence over the weekend, widespread frost across southern Brazil. The coldest temperatures of the year swept into southern Brazil late last week with temperatures as low as the mid-20's F. The frosts occurred in Rio Grande do Sul late last week and progressed northward on Saturday into Parana and even southern Mato Grosso do Sul, Sao Paulo, and southern Minas Gerais.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul is the second leading wheat producing state in Brazil and the state where the wheat is planted last. As a result, an estimated 22% of the wheat in the state was at a susceptible stage of development when the frost occurred. Estimates are that at least 10% of Brazil's anticipated wheat production has been lost.

The state of Parana is the largest wheat producing state in Brazil and the state where the wheat is planted earlier. As a result, an estimated 80% of the wheat was in a susceptible stage of development when the frost occurred. As of last Monday, the Department of Rural Economics for the state of Parana (Deral) reported that 23% of the wheat in the state was vegetative, 25% flowering, 38% was filling grain, and 14% was mature. The crop was rated 2% poor, 15% average, and 83% good. Fortunately, the most advanced wheat will have the less chance of frost. Officials from Deral indicated that it will take a least a week to determine the extent of the damage.

The more common problem for wheat producers in Parana is dry weather during August and heavy rains when the crop is being harvested during September and October. Very rarely do they have to worry about frost in August.

In their most recent August report, Conab estimated that Brazil would produce 6.8 million tons of wheat in 2020 and import 6.7 million tons to meet domestic demand. In July, Conab estimated that Brazil would import 7.3 million tons of wheat. The lower wheat import projection was due to improved crop conditions, but that may no longer be the case. Once the full extent of the damage caused by the frosts becomes evident, Conab may have to increase their estimate of Brazil's wheat imports.

Brazil is generally the seventh largest wheat importer in the world and the country has a domestic consumption of 12 million tons annually. The consumption of wheat, rice, dry beans and manioc have increased in Brazil as a result of the pandemic.