May 1, 2015

Wheat Planting in Parana getting off to a Delayed Start

After being delayed by dry weather, the farmers in central Parana have started to plant their 2014/15 winter wheat crop. The region received enough rainfall last week to encourage farmers to start planting. The Department of Rural Economics (Deral) estimates that 5% of the wheat has been planted and that should increase to 50% within a week. Normally by this time of the year, farmers are finishing up the wheat planting, especially those who plant early maturing varieties.

In the region of Ivaipora, which included 22 municipalities, the Secretary of Agriculture for the State of Parana estimates that the wheat acreage will increase slightly from 119,000 hectares in 2013/14 to 122,800 hectares this growing season. Deral is estimating that the 2014/15 wheat crop in the region will yield 3,100 kg/ha or approximately 45 bu/ac.

In recent years, farmers in the region have been moving toward planting early maturing wheat varieties as early as possible in order to start harvesting the crop in September instead of the traditional harvest month of October. They would like to harvest their wheat before the onset of the summer rainy season because heavy rains during harvest is an ongoing concern for wheat producers in southern Brazil.

The president of the local rural society in Ivaipora, Lourival Goes, does not hold out much hope for making a profit growing wheat. He indicated that he plants wheat primarily to keep the soil covered during the winter months in order to minimize erosion and to have wheat stubble where he can plant no-till soybeans. The combination of low prices and relatively low yields makes growing wheat in southern Brazil a hit-or-miss proposition.

The states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul are the two leading wheat producing states in Brazil and combined, they account for over 90% of the wheat produced in Brazil. The wheat in Parana is generally harvested during October and in Rio Grande do Sul the wheat is harvested during November. It is quite common to have hot and humid conditions in southern Brazil during the wheat harvest resulting in poor quality wheat. Last year in Rio Grande do Sul, excessive rains during November resulted in severe yield reductions and very poor grain quality. So poor in fact, that much of the wheat in the state was used for animal feed instead of human consumption.