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September 23, 2019

Results Indicate that Wheat can be Produced in Central Brazil

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

Wheat production in Brazil has always been a challenge and as a result, Brazil needs to import nearly half of its annual wheat consumption. Currently, about 90% of Brazil's wheat is produced in the states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, but researchers have long thought that wheat could be successfully grown under irrigation in central Brazil during the dry season.

During the dry season in central Brazil, which is from May until September, the temperatures are generally in the 80's, it is sunny but it is very dry. Once the safrinha corn is harvested in June, the fields are either empty or have a cover crop. For several years, researchers have grown wheat under center pivot irrigation during the dry season in the cerrado region of central Brazil and they are very encouraged by the results.

A field day was held on September 13th in the municipality of Pedra Preta, which is located in southeastern Mato Grosso, where researchers, government officials and industry representatives viewed the results of the research and discussed the future of wheat production in Mato Grosso.

The research was conducted on a farm owned by the agricultural company Bom Jesus and it included six wheat varieties adapted to the climate of central Brazil with the right protein makeup to produce high quality flower. Yields on the experimental plots approached 80 sacks per hectare (71 bu/ac), which is considered economically viable. Similar research has also been conducted in four other locations throughout the state with similar results.

Researchers feel the state has the capacity to produce high quality wheat and flower equal to or better than the wheat produced in neighboring Argentina, which is the source of most of Brazil's wheat imports.

A flower mill is being installed in the state capital of Cuiaba with the capacity to process 120 tons of wheat daily. The mill will be operational in 2021 and the operator feels that 30,000 hectares of wheat production would be needed to meet the demand of the mill.

Wheat seed production will start in 2020 with commercial wheat production starting in 2021. The initial production will be about 2,000 hectares and that is expected to increase annually. Researchers feel that the state could eventually produce more than 100,000 hectares of wheat and as long as the yields are in the range of 80 sacks per hectare (71 bu/ac), producers could expect profits margins of approximately 20%. The state of Mato Grosso consumes 140,000 tons of flower per year.

Wheat is the only major grain for which Brazil is not self-sufficient, so increasing wheat production in the cerrado region of central Brazil, could help reduce Brazil dependence on imported wheat.