Movement for winter wheat harvest begins

In the last harvest, the wheat area grew 14,8% in Brazil compared to the previous year, with productivity 5,4% higher

02.02.2021 | 20:59 (UTC -3)
Joseani M. Antunes

The soybean harvest isn't even over yet and producers are beginning to look for seeds for winter crops. Wheat should continue to be the most attractive option after reaching the highest production in the last 20 years.

In the last harvest, the wheat area grew 14,8% in Brazil compared to the previous year, with a 5,4% higher productivity, resulting in the highest production volume since the year 2000 (see Conab chart). The price also favored triticulture with constant growth throughout 2020, closing the year at close to R$70,00 per 60kg bag.

According to Apassul (Association of Seed and Seedling Producers of RS), today there are already more than 89 thousand hectares approved for the production of wheat seeds in Rio Grande do Sul (data from the SIGEF - MAPA Inspection Management System), an increase of 18% compared to the previous harvest. “These numbers demonstrate the seed producer's feeling to increase wheat in the portfolio. Even though not all seed production is commercialized, the market is certainly heated, mainly due to the prices that make wheat a profitable option in addition to the advantages in the production system”, assesses the administrative director of Apassul, Jean Cirino.

In Paraná, the largest cereal producing state in recent harvests, producers are waiting for the soybean harvest to decide whether to invest in wheat or opt for late planting of off-season corn. But according to Apasem (Paraná Association of Seed and Seedling Producers) the sector is already seeing anticipation in the demand for wheat seeds: “We are seeing anticipation in the seed market. The demand for wheat, which previously took place in March, this year began in January”, says Apasem Executive Director, Jhony Möller. He believes that Paraná should repeat last year's wheat area, over one million hectares.

Following the increase in wheat prices, the value of the seed also changed: according to figures from the Deral/PR, the prices received by wheat producers in Paraná increased by 30,5% from January to November 2020, while the price of the seed rose by 16% in the same period.

Cultivars

in publication Technical Information for Wheat and Triticale – 2020 harvest 230 wheat cultivars are indicated for the different producing regions in Brazil. How to choose? Embrapa Trigo researcher, Pedro Scheeren, recommends that the producer evaluates the cultivars directly on the property, reserving an area to try some options available on the market, as the performance of the cultivars can vary in different producing regions. “When choosing a cultivar, you must first observe its agronomic characteristics and disease resistance. But we must always consider where and how the chosen variety will be grown, from the environment, climate and soil, to the investment capacity in the crop, as well as the expected yield potential in the area with planned management, without forgetting the liquidity of that cultivar in the regional market” explains the researcher. According to him, despite rising grain prices, producers must ensure crop balance, prioritizing cultivars with better health and efficient use of nutrients, factors that allow savings on fertilizers and fungicides, which represent the main costs of farming.

Producer experience

The expectation of high prices led producer Gean Bender to exchange oat cover for wheat in the last harvest, investing in 550 hectares at Granja Ouroverde that he manages with his family in Giruá, RS. The scheduling included three cultivars from different cycles, which avoided losing the entire crop to frost in August. One of the bets was the BRS Reponte cultivar, cultivated on 180 hectares (ha), resulting in a yield of 61 bags per hectare on average for crops. “Even in years of inclement weather, the producer achieves good productivity with more rustic and high-yielding cultivars”, explains technical assistant Vicente Victor, from Sementes Victor, based in Giruá, RS, and highlights: “Without a doubt, in the scenario Currently, investing in wheat is a much more advantageous business than leaving just a cover crop in the winter”.

In the north of Rio Grande do Sul, the Rigon family reserves at least 50% of the crop for wheat cultivation, increasing the area every year: in the 70s it was 100 ha; in the 80s it increased to 500 ha; 90s it was 1.000 ha; 2000 it rose to 1.800 ha; 2010 it was 2.500 ha; and in 2020 it reached 4.500 ha with wheat. “We never stop planting wheat, regardless of the market. If no money is made from selling the grains, the straw will certainly generate profit in the summer”, says producer Roberto Rigon, from Seberi, RS.

Why plant wheat?

Observing the Conab historical series It is possible to consider that the price of wheat on the national market is not always attractive for the producer. However, investment in winter cereal should not be calculated in isolation but rather evaluated in the summer/winter production system. An Embrapa study, conducted in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 harvests in Londrina, PR, showed that winter wheat cultivation can result in an increase of more than 50% in soybean productivity in relation to fallow. “Wheat straw reduced water stress in soybeans during grain filling, in addition to reducing soil temperature, while the roots of the winter crop allowed greater water infiltration into the soil”, explains Embrapa Soja researcher Henrique Debiasi .

At Embrapa Trigo, in Passo Fundo, RS, wheat cultivation was the basis of an experiment to evaluate water infiltration into the soil. “After two years of physical and chemical intervention in the soil, the water infiltration rate increased from 13 mm/hour to 80 mm/hour. In 120 days of implementing the wheat crop, the roots already reached 1,3 meters deep, improving the soil structure for water availability to plants during dry periods”, explains technology transfer analyst Jorge Lemainski. “This proves that the best summer harvest starts in winter”, he concludes.

LS Tractor February