What’s behind the explosive increase in rapeseed and carinata planting in Uruguay

The expansion of the area cultivated with these winter oilseeds, estimated at almost 50 thousand hectares compared to last year’s record (+ 42%), underpins a consistent reality in recent years: in 2014 these crops occupied just 10,000 hectares, with a very marginal presence and almost in an exploratory way.

The passage of the years was setting a growth based on two factors: uA greater efficiency in the agronomic management of the crop and a growing demand and with prices now rising.

The progress is clearly exposed by citing that in 2018 the cultivation was installed on 55 thousand hectares, in 2019 on 73 thousand hectares, last year on 113 thousand hectares and now occupies the aforementioned 160 thousand hectares.

Rapeseed harvest in Flores.

Good values ​​are not yet captured

The bulk of the area corresponds to Rapeseed, destined mainly for the production of oil, a product with high demand and with toned values ​​in recent times. The minor portion of the area is planted with carinata, whose demand is generated by the UPM company.

Rapeseed values ​​currently exceed US $ 500 per ton, well above those of the last harvest, which closed with a value of US $ 420 per ton, informed El Observador Roberto Verdera, general manager of the Cooperativa Agraria Limitada de Mercedes (Calmer).

The future price is interesting, but not all producers are capturing it since in this production there is little advance sale, generally of no more than 500 kilos, he explained, as a result of the high variability in the yield that this crop has between years.

Diego Guigou, manager of agricultural production at Agronegocios del Plata (ADP), agreed and added that “as it is a new crop, most producers are trying. Some are encouraged to sell, those who want to do it can do it now, but generally they wait until they have more production to market ”.

In the past harvest, the estimated margin received by the producer was “neutral”, since due to the amount paid per ton and the costs of the crop “it did not close a very good deal”, although now “the equation has changed” with the good prices, added.

To produce this crop, it is necessary to invest in a “quite demanding” fertilization, which includes a lot of sulfur, phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen, in addition to the seeds, fungicides and the costs for drying the grain, Guigou explained. and he stressed that the good thing about rapeseed cultivation is that it generates an early second-rate soybean sowing date and a plus in rotation.

Production on the rise

In the last closed season, that of 2020/21, rapeseed and carinata generated a production of 183,336 tons, with a yield of 1,609 kilos / ha. With a similar yield, this year at least 250 thousand tons can be harvested.

Stabilized performance

Performance remains stable. In 2019/20 it was 1,546 kilos per ha (with a production of 113.2 thousand tons) and in 2018/19 it was 1,646 kilos per ha (90.7 thousand tons).


Winter crops

In the 2021/2022 campaign, based on data from the Winter Survey carried out by the Directorate of Agricultural Statistics (DIEA) of the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries (MGAP), the total area of ​​winter crops grows to 632 thousand hectares.

This establishes an increase of 16% compared to the 547 thousand hectares of last year, when there had already been a growth of 11% over the area of ​​2019.

Rapeseed harvest in Dolores.