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ebruary 18, 2011

Wheat Could be an Alternative to Safrinha Corn in Central Brazil

The Brazilian research agency Embrapa is testing five new wheat varieties that could be planted in central Brazil after the soybeans have been harvested. They feel that irrigated wheat production or dry land wheat production at higher elevations (above 700 meters) could be competitive with other safrinha crops such as corn. Early yield results have been very positive. Yields as high as 5,200 to 5,700 kg/ha (80 to 88 bu/ac) have been reported with several of the new wheat varieties.

There are several advantages for producing wheat in central Brazil. For the farmers, it is a chance to disrupt the cycles of diseases and pests such as soybean rust and nematodes. These pest problems are becoming more troublesome with continuous soybean production.

Another advantage would be strictly economic. Currently, nearly all the wheat produced in Brazil is grown in southern Brazil and the cost of transporting the wheat or flower to other parts of Brazil is extremely high. If wheat could be grown locally, it would eliminate most of the transportation costs. Additionally, the wheat produced in southern Brazil is usually of inferior quality due to hot and humid conditions that can occur during harvest. The wheat grown in central Brazil would be harvest during the dry season which should allow for better quality. Early test results indicate that the wheat grown in central Brazil can be of superior quality.

Wheat in central Brazil would be planted after the middle of February and it would be harvested during the months of June or July. If it could be planted early enough, it would be non-irrigated. The later planted wheat would probably be irrigated in order to insure adequate moisture for grain fill before the onset of the next dry season.