BRAZIL: Datagro sees rain stranding cane in the field till next crush
Published: 07/20/2012, 11:00:17 AM
Datagro says abundant rainfall over Brazil's main centre-south sugarcane crop during this dry season risks stranding some of the 2012/13 crop until the next season, according to Reuters.
Many of Brazil's cane mills have delayed the start of harvest this season, which officially started in April, to allow the crop to mature and yields to improve after a wet start to the crushing season.
And the unusually wet weather in the past weeks has kept those mills that had started crushing from getting into the fields.
The Center for Cane Technology based in Sao Paulo, the heart of Brazil's sugarcane belt, estimates that on average mills were unable to crush 11 days out of June, compared with being down five days due to rain in the month the year before.
"The abundant rainfall in the last couple of months also has its downsides, such as: a decrease in industrial and mechanical harvesting yields, an increase in mineral impurities and the interruption of agricultural operations," Datagro said in a note on Thursday. "Mills are now worrying with the prospect of postponing the harvest of some cane fields to the next crop."
Meteorologists anticipate a high probability that global weather patterns are shifting into El Nino conditions, which tends to mean wetter weather for Brazil's cane belt.
If the rains are stronger than normal during the end of the crushing season -- October through December -- mills could be forced to leave mature cane in the fields until the start of next season in April, 2013.
In 2008 and 2009, mills were forced to leave several million tonnes of mature cane in the field until the following season due to wet weather that had interrupted harvest.
Global sugar prices have been supported since the start of June by reports of the wet weather and shipping delays at the main ports in Brazil, which controls about half the world's trade in sugar.
Mills are struggling to raise Brazil's cane output after output plummeted to 494 million tonnes in the centre-south last season, the first drop in the world's biggest cane crop in 11 years.
Datagro said the wet weather will help newly replanted and freshly cut cane fields sprout and develop for harvest in the 2013/14 crush. Cane fields must be replanted every five years, at least, to maintain optimal yields.
Mills following the 2008 financial crisis postponed replanting for several years and this combined with dry weather was the main cause of the drop in output of the cane crop last season.
Mills have been aggressively replanting but analysts believe it will take until at least 2013 or 2014 to return to the record 565 million tonne range output of the 2010/11 season.