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December 18, 2013

Rio Grande do Sul new Leader in Brazilian Wheat Production

Recent increases in the wheat production estimate for the state of Rio Grande do Sul now places the state firmly in the lead as the number one wheat producing state in Brazil. According to Emater/RS, which is the extension service in the state, the 2013/14 wheat crop in the state should be 2.9 million tons, which would represent an increase of 56% compared to the crop in 2012/13. The state now accounts for approximately 60% of Brazil's total wheat production.

The 2013/14 wheat acreage in the state increased 5% to 1.03 million hectares. The last time farmers in the state planted more than a million hectares of wheat was in 2004 when 1.12 million hectares were planted.

The reasons behind the increased acreage were good wheat prices of course, but also the availability of improved wheat varieties as well. If wheat producers in the state used good technology such as improved varieties, increased fertilization, disease control, and plant the crop at the proper time, they can expect yields in the range of 3,000 kg/ha or approximately 43 bu/ac. This represents a significant improvement in recent years when wheat yields in the state struggelled to surpass 2,600 kg/ha or approximately 40 bu/ac even in good years. The 2012/13 wheat yield in the state was only 1,941 kg/ha or approximately 30 bu/ac.

Most of the increased acreage came in the non-traditional wheat producing regions of the state such as the southern region which increased 43% and western region which increased 17%. The northwestern region of the state is the traditional wheat producing area of the state and it still accounts for 80% of the wheat grown in the state.

Traditionally, the state of Parana is the largest wheat producing state in Brazil, but a series of frost this past winter greatly impacted the wheat crop in the state and the state is now projected to produce only 1.79 million tons.

Conab recently increased their estimate of the 2013/14 wheat crop in Brazil to 5.3 million tons which is 22% greater than the 4.3 million tons produced in 2012/13. Even with this increase, Brazil is expected to import 6.7 million tons of wheat to meet domestic demand. Normally, most of Brazil imports come from neighboring Argentina and Uruguay, but a disappointing wheat crop in Argentina has forced Brazil to import large quantities of wheat from the United States and Canada instead. Wheat is the only major crop in Brazil for which they are not self-sufficient.