Dec 29, 2022

Brazil Produces Record Wheat Crop Second Year in a Row

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

The 2022 wheat harvest in Brazil is complete and for the second year in a row, Brazil has produced a record wheat crop. According to Conab, Brazil produced a record 9.5 million tons of wheat in 2022, which was up 24% compared to 2021. But even with a record production, Brazil still fell short of meeting its domestic wheat demand of approximately 12 million tons.

Wheat is the only major crop for which Brazil is not self-sufficient. Brazil has set a goal of being self-sufficient in wheat by the end of this decade, but many industry experts feel the goal will be reached before that.

The two main wheat producing states in Brazil are Parana and Rio Grande do Sul. Combined, these two states produced approximately 86% of Brazil's 2022 wheat production. The wheat in Parana is generally planted in May and harvested in September/October. The wheat in Rio Grande do Sul is planted a little later and harvested a little later than in Parana. The 2022 growing season in these two states was quite different.

Farmers in Parana planted 1.19 million hectares of wheat in 2022 (2.93 million acres) and the wheat production in Parana ended up at 3.5 million tons, which fell short of initial expectation, but still up 9% compared to 2021. In the northern part of the state, the wheat yields were hurt by a lack of rainfall until the month of August. In much of the state, frosts occurred as the wheat was maturing and then rain at harvest reduced the yield and the quality of the grain.

Farmers in Parana are expected to expand their wheat acreage in 2023 due to the late soybeans planting in some areas which will not allow enough time to plant safrinha corn, so some farmers may opt for wheat instead.

In the state of Rio Grande do Sul the weather during the growing season was very beneficial. Farmers in the state planted a record acreage of 1.43 million hectares (3.53 million acres), which was up 23% compared to 2021. The state produced 4.7 million tons of wheat, which was up 36% compared to 2021. Improved high-yielding wheat varieties allowed some farmers in the state to average 85 sacks per hectare (76 bu/ac) with a top end as high as 100 sacks per hectare (89 bu/ac). Given the good results in 2022, wheat acreage in Rio do Sul is expected to continue expanding in 2023.

Even with continued increases in wheat acreage in Parana and Rio Grande do Sul, the key to self-sufficiency is the expansion of wheat production in the cerrado areas of central Brazil where millions of hectares could be put in wheat production. Wheat could offer an alternative to safrinha corn production especially during dry years and the farmers in central Brazil who have experimented with wheat have been very pleased with the returns of their wheat production. Embrapa had developed high-yielding wheat varieties suitable for both irrigated and dryland production in the cerrado regions of central Brazil.

The wheat produced in central Brazil is harvested during the dry season, which allows for high quality grain that commands a premium from Brazilian millers. It also avoids the potential problem of heavy rain at harvest that frequently impacts the wheat in southern Brazil resulting in poorer quality grain.