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September 5, 2013

Early Harvest Results in Parana Suggest Poor Quality Wheat

As farmers in Parana start to harvest their 2013 wheat crop in the northern and western regions of the state, the news is not very good. According to the State Secretary of Agriculture (Seab), the first forty thousand tons of wheat harvested (approximately 3%) indicates that the quality of the crop may be poorer than normal. The crop suffered from excessive rains earlier in the growing season and a series of frosts as the crop was flowering.

The quality of the wheat in southern Parana is expected to be better because the crop was not as advanced in its development when the frosts occurred. Any excessive rains from this point forward could impact the quality of the wheat even further during harvest. In the areas already harvested, Seab estimates that the average yield is approximately 1,500 kg/ha (approximately 23 bu/ac), which is much lower than the normal yields of 2,500 kg/ha (approximately 38.5 bu/ac).

Seab estimates that the state will produce 1.9 million tons of wheat, which is 1.0 million below their initial estimates before the week of cold temperatures at the end of July. Farmers increased their wheat acreage from 800,000 hectares in 2011/12 to 976,000 hectares in 2012/13, but the crop is expected to be smaller than the 2.1 million tons harvested last year.

Brazil will need to import approximately 8 million tons of wheat to meet domestic demand and 2 million tons of that wheat will come from countries outside of South America. Argentina is usually the principal supplier of wheat to Brazil, but they are having their own problems in Argentina due to dry weather.

If the quality remains as poor as these early results suggest, a significant portion of the crop will end up as feed-quality wheat that would be used in livestock rations. That wheat would substitute for corn in the rations, thus reducing the pressure on farmers in southern Brazil to plant all their full-season corn acreage