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August 30, 2013

Freezing temperatures Hit Southern Brazil for a Second Time

Frosts and freezing temperatures were recorded again this week in southern Brazil. Temperatures were the coldest on Wednesday morning when widespread areas of the state of Parana experienced freezing temperatures. The temperatures Thursday morning and Friday morning are not expected to be as cold, but pockets of subfreezing temperatures are still expected.

This is the second outbreak of very cold temperatures in southern Brazil during the past month. During the last week of July, areas of Parana had four consecutive nights of subfreezing temperatures that severely impacted the wheat, coffee, and sugarcane crops in the state.

During the first outbreak of cold temperatures, the more advanced wheat in Parana suffered significant losses and the total wheat crop in the state was reduced by about one-third. The wheat crop in Rio Grande do Sul was still in the vegetative stage at the end of July and it did not suffer any losses.

Some of the wheat crop in Parana that escaped damage the first time around was not as fortunate this time. A large percentage of the crop is now in advanced stage of development and more sensitive to freeze damage. It is estimated that 55% to 60% of the wheat that was in a sensitive stage (heading and flowering) experienced the recent round of freezing temperatures. It takes a number of days before losses can be confirmed, but it is expected to show that the wheat crop in the state suffered additional loses and the production in the state will be lowered even further.

Rio Grande do Sul is the other large wheat producing state in Brazil, but the temperatures in the state did not get as cold due to cloud cover and higher humidity. The state extension service also indicated that only a small percentage of the wheat in the state had advanced to a stage where it is sensitive to freezing temperatures. Therefore, losses to the wheat crop in the state are only expected to be minor.

The wheat crop in Rio Grande do Sul is planted much later than in Parana. The wheat harvest in Rio Grande do Sul won't start until October, whereas the early wheat harvest in Parana is already underway. The wheat crop in Rio Grande do Sul is expected to be 2.4 million tons and the current estimate in Parana is 2 million tons, but that is expected to be revised downward in future reports.

Prior to the freezing temperatures, Brazil was expected to import 7 million tons of wheat, but that was revised upward to nearly 8 million tons after the first freeze. Expectations are that it will be revised upward once again after the damage from the latest freezes is confirmed.