WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Wheat production in Chile covers about 65% of Chile’s demand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in an April 27 report, while the remaining 35% demand is met through imports from the U.S., Canada and Argentina. 

Chile’s average wheat production area over the past nine years has remained at 260,000 hectares. In market year 2015-16, Chile’s wheat planted area reached 281,000 hectares with a production total of 1.6 million tonnes. This is an increase of 8% over market year 2014-15. Area and production are expected to decrease on market year 2016-17 since prices for domestic producers have been lower than market year 2015-16.

Quite commonly, wheat producers also produce oat and canola and adjust or shift the production area of each crop based on different factors like price or market conditions and to technical factors like crop rotation requirements.

Seventy-percent of Chilean wheat is produced between the Araucania and Biobio region. The Araucania region has 40% of the wheat planted surface area, which is a large concentration of Chile’s overall wheat production. The highest wheat yields take place in Los Rios and Los Lagos regions, which are located in the southern part of Chile and that accumulate more rainfall during the season.

Water availability is considered a recent problem in both the Biobio and Araucania regions, as recent droughts over the last three years impacted overall agricultural production, resulting in lower wheat yields in these regions. The Chilean government is concerned with this issue and has been working on developing water reservoirs. Research for the use and development of irrigation systems is being carried out in order to increase yields.

Wheat imports increased 1.9% in volume in market year 2014-15 over market year 2013-14. However, imports decreased by 12% in value. Wheat from Canada decreased slightly and substantially from the U.S. Wheat imports from Argentina increased 170 million tonnes, an increase from the previous market year.

A slight increase in import volume is expected in and market year 2015-16, as domestic production was high. In addition, a 14.5% increase is projected for market year 2016-17 as domestic production is expected to fall due to low prices received by domestic producers on market year 2015-16 and a shift towards crops that were more profitable like oat.

Chilean wheat exportation is virtually non-existent. Any wheat exported is in the form of pasta.