September 11, 2009

Rain, disease hampers wheat crop in Brazil's Parana

Rain and disease are hampering the wheat crop in Parana, Brazil's No. 1 producer state, according Parana's agricultural secretariat, or Seab.


"The wet weather is worrying," technical specialist Otmar Hubner, told Dow Jones Newswires on Thursday.


Seab said recently Parana state, which accounts for over half of Brazil's area planted with wheat, should produce a crop of 3.17 million tonnes in 2008-09, down 9 percent from earlier estimates.


"Further [wheat crop] losses are expected this month," Hubner said without giving details. Seab is preparing a new crop estimate that should be available at the end of September.


Parana's 2007-08 wheat crop was 3.2 million tonnes, but this year the area of land devoted to the crop has increased almost 10 percent.


Hubner said damp weather has led to a rise in crop diseases, such as fungus.


Farmers need to apply more fungicide and this increases their costs. Moreover, the wet weather has hindered farmers from applying fungicide, he added.


Parana has harvested 6 percent to 7 percent of its new wheat crop, and the recent rains have come at the worst time, Hubner said. Rain makes harvesting harder and lowers the quality, he said.


Brazil is a major importer of wheat and this year Argentina's smaller wheat crop led Brazil to look for alternative sources such as Russia.


The lower-than-expected production of wheat in states such as Parana could mean more imports are needed next year, Hubner said.


The Chicago Board Of Trade December wheat futures contract is up 2 3/4 cents at US$4.59 a bushel on Thursday.


National Commodities Supply Corp., or Conab, on Tuesday estimated Brazil's 2008-09 wheat crop at 6 million tonnes compared to 4 million tonnes in 2007-08.


Brazil planted 2.4 million hectares with wheat in 2008-09, up 31 percent from 2007-08, said Conab.

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