Heavy rains in southern Brazil hurt wheat production

The top wheat state could see output fall 33 per cent from 2011

sao paulo / reuters Heavy rains in southern Brazil are threatening wheat output, and top-producing state Rio Grande do Sul could lose around a third of its crop just before harvest, a local official said Oct. 26.

Brazil’s government crop supply agency Conab earlier this month forecast five million tonnes of wheat from Brazil’s 2012-13 crop, down from 5.8 million tonnes a year ago. Exports were forecast to fall by 34 per cent to 1.25 million tonnes.

But rains have hurt the quality of the crop that is being harvested in the far south, said Emater, the government’s technical assistance agency in Rio Grande do Sul.

“We had very intense rains in a short period of time… this caused problems with the crop,” said Luiz Ataides Jacobsen, an agronomist for Emater.

Rio Grande do Sul may harvest only two million tonnes of wheat this season, down from 2.7 million tonnes a year earlier, Ataides said, even though Emater’s official forecast is for 2.3 million tonnes. He said 22 per cent of the state’s crop had been harvested and yields were lower than expected.

Parts of Rio Grande do Sul and Parana states have seen rainfall well above average in October, as has much of Argentina, but warmer Atlantic Ocean waters have kept the storms from pushing into the southern half of top soy-producing state Mato Grosso.

The state needs rain soon to ensure the planting of its next soy crop is a success.

Though Brazil is among the world’s top exporters of corn and soybeans, it is a comparatively small wheat exporter, producing mainly soft-variety wheat often better suited to sweet foods. The country imports much of the wheat it consumes domestically.

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