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July 18, 2013

Canola Promoted as Alternative Winter Crop in Southern Brazil

The most popular winter crops in southern Brazil are safrinhaF corn and winter wheat, but a small and growing alternative winter crop is canola. Rio Grande do Sul is the largest canola producing state in Brazil with an estimated 21,400 hectares followed by Parana at 13,500 hectares, These two states account for approximately 94% of the canola grown in Brazil. While the canola acreage is increasing, it is still only a tiny fraction (0.29%) of the soybean acreage grown in Parana (4.6 million hectares).

The canola acreage in Parana has increased 300% over the last six years and it would have increased even more this year had more seed been available. The majority of canola seed planted in Brazil is imported from Argentina and production problems in Argentina last year resulted in a shortage of seed available all across Brazil this year.

The canola that has been planted in Parana is in good condition and the harvest is expected to start at the end of August. Parana is expected to produce 22,700 tons of canola which is primarily used by food manufactures for human consumption.

In addition to human consumption, canola oil can also be used to blend with petroleum diesel to produce biodiesel. The current biodiesel in Brazil is a blend of 5% vegetable oil with 95% petroleum diesel (B5). The National Petroleum, Gas, and Biofuel Agency (ANP) want the blend percentage to increase to 10% (B10) by 2020. Currently soybean oil is the primary vegetable oil used to make biodiesel, but the government limits the use of soybean oil to 80% of the total as a way to promote alternative oils such as canola oil.