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October 24, 2017

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul continue to have Problems with Wheat

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

Farmers in Rio Grande do Sul are frustrated once again with their winter wheat production. Last year, they had a very good wheat crop, but that is not going to be repeated this year. Heavy storms accompanied by high winds and occasional hail have impacting the crop just as the harvest is beginning. This now marks three out of the last four years that the wheat crop in the state has been disappointing.

According to the president of the Federation of Agricultural and Livestock Cooperatives in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (FecoAgro/RS), the early wheat harvest has started and farmers are reporting yields and grain quality below expectations. Some yields are below 20 sacks per hectare (17.5 bu/ac) with the maximum being 35 sacks per hectare (30 bu/ac). The quality of the crop is also less than desired. The forecast is calling for more rain and it is possible that a significant portion of the wheat crop may only be suitable for animal feed.

This is not only bad news for farmers in the state, it also means that Brazil may need to import more high quality wheat than normal to meet the demand of domestic millers. The Minister of Agriculture estimates that Brazil will need to import approximately 7 million tons of wheat to meet the domestic demand of 11.5 million tons with 4 million tons coming from neighboring Argentina.

There is also reported high variability in both yield and quality this year. Agronomists are reporting that some of the wheat heads are still green while others are completely dry with the difference being caused by frosts earlier in the growing season. The president of FecoAgro/RS thinks the state's wheat crop could be as low as 1.5 million tons, while other reporting agencies still think the crop could be 1.7 million tons.

Wheat is not the only winter small grain crop that has been impacted by the weather. Yield and quality of the barley crop is also being reported as disappointing. The quality of the crop is reported as being too low to be utilized by the beer industry and it will most likely be utilized for animal feed.

The wheat crop in Parana is 79% harvested. The remaining crop to be harvested is 56% maturing, 41% filling grain, and 3% flowering. The remaining crop is rated 18% poor, 46% average, and 36% good.