Dec 27, 2019

Workshop Promotes Wheat Production in Mato Grosso, Brazil

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

Brazil has been increasing its soybean and corn production to the point where they are the world's leading producer and exporter of soybeans and they could potentially surpass the United States in 2020 as the leading exporter of corn. While those crops have been very successful in Brazil, that has not been the case for wheat production. Brazil continues to rely on imports for about half of its domestic wheat needs.

Over 90% of Brazil's wheat is produced in the two southern states of Parana and Rio Grande do Sul and researchers have been promoting more wheat production in central Brazil during the dry season, especially for farmers who have irrigation capabilities.

Wheat production was the focus of a recent Workshop in the municipality of Primavera do Leste, which is located in the southeastern part of Mato Grosso. The municipality has 40,000 hectares of center pivot irrigation and is thought to be an ideal location for wheat production during the dry season, which runs from June to September. There are approximately 20,000 hectares of wheat production in the state and all the wheat must currently be sent to the state of Parana for milling, but that is about to change.

A flower mill is being constructed in the city of Cuiaba, which is the capital of Mato Grosso. The mill will start operations in 2021 and become fully operational in 2022. Once operational, it will be able to process 300 tons of wheat per day, which will require about 50,000 hectares of wheat production.

The Brazilian research agency Embrapa has identified six varieties of wheat adapted to the climate and soils of Mato Grosso and they have all been developed from wheat currently grown in Argentina. The current price of wheat in Mato Grosso is not very attractive because of the high cost of transporting the wheat to another state for milling, but prices are expected to improve with the demand from the new flower mill.

Wheat production in the state adds to the choices farmers have for crop rotations and for what they could grow as a second crop following soybeans. In fact, if everything worked out perfectly, it is possible that farmers in the state could produce three crops per year, but it would all have to be under irrigation.

The first crop of soybeans would be planted in mid-September and harvested in early January. A second crop of corn would be planted immediately after the soybeans are harvested. The wheat would be planted immediately after the corn is harvested in late May or early June. The wheat would then be harvested in early September in time to once again plant soybeans.

On paper it would be possible to produce three crops in a year, but in reality everything would have to go perfectly with no weather interruptions during the planting or harvesting phases.