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June 29, 2017

2017 South American Wheat Crop Continues to Struggle

The wheat crop in South America continues to run into problems. The planting pace is behind normal in southern Brazil and recent frosts have impacted the crop in parts of Argentina.

According to Emater/RS, farmers in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul planted 53% of their intended winter wheat crop compared to the normal of 75% by this time of the year. The delayed planting is due to heavy rains and saturated conditions that have kept farmers out of the field. In the northwestern region of the state, the ideal planting window has already closed, whereas in other regions of the state, wheat can be planted until the end of July. Emater estimates that the wheat acreage in the state declined 6.4% this year or 50,000 hectares to 727,700 hectares.

At the start of the planting season farmers were discouraged by low prices and the heavy rains in late May and early June convinced some farmers to plant even less wheat than they had intended.

In Argentina, news about the wheat crop is also somewhat disappointing. The Grain Exchange in Cordoba Argentina reported that recent freezing temperatures had a negative impact on the wheat crop in the province of Cordoba. In their third evaluation of the 2017/18 wheat crop, they are estimating that farmers in the province planted 1.44 million hectares or 3% less than last year. Some farmers in the province planted chickpeas instead of winter wheat.

The wheat crop in Argentina usually experiences several frosts during the growing season with minimal impact on the crop. The difference this year has been the variability in temperatures and the abrupt changes in temperatures. The most recent frost is the third of the season. The first frost was in late May with two more frosts in June.