Back
July 31, 2017

Freezing Temperatures Impact Wheat Crop in Paraguay and Brazil

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

The wheat crop in Paraguay was severely damaged two weeks ago by very cold temperatures that were as low as -6°C (21°F). These were the coldest temperatures registered in areas of Paraguay since 1975.

According to the Paraguayan Cereal and Oilseed Exporters Association (Capeco), loses to the winter wheat crop could be as high as 30% to 40%. The final loss estimate won't be known until the wheat is harvested.

The problem for the 2017 wheat crop in Paraguay started early in the growing season. Heavy rains during April, May, and early June delayed wheat planting and as a result, most of the wheat was planted during June, which is past the ideal planting window. Unfortunately, it was the later planted wheat that seemed to have been impacted the most by the freezing temperatures.

Capeco had initially estimated that farmers in Paraguay would plant 500,000 hectares of winter wheat, but they have now lowered that number to closer to 400,000 hectares. Capeco feels there will be enough wheat to meet domestic demand, but exports will be lower than originally expected.

The consulting agency Trigo & Farinhas, has reduced their estimate for Paraguayan wheat exports by 17%. They originally estimated that Paraguay would export 439,000 tons of wheat to mainly Brazil, but that has now been reduced to 364,000 tons for exports between January 1st and December 31st of this year. If verified, it would be the lowest wheat exports since 2013.

Freezing temperatures and dry weather also impacted the wheat crop in Parana, which is Brazil's largest wheat producing state. The Department of Rural Economics (Deral) recently reduced their wheat estimate by 6% to 2.82 million tons. Prior to the freezing temperatures, Deral had estimated the 2017 wheat crop in Parana at 3.1 million tons and in 2016 the state produced 3.48 million tons of wheat.

Farmers in Parana reduced their acreage in 2017 by 13% due to low prices. The 2017 wheat acreage in Parana is now estimated at 955,000 hectares and the yields are expected to decline 6% to 2,970 kg/ha (43 bu/ac).

Much of the state was very dry during the second half of June and most of July, so the wheat crop had already been impacted by adverse weather when the cold temperatures hit two weeks ago. The freezing temperatures caused the most damage in western Parana where the crop was in a sensitive developmental stage. The final loses will not be known until the wheat is harvested.