Brazil forecast growth in its cane harvest, and sugar output,
in the newly-started season, despite the drought in its main sugar-producing region, seeing a rise in area more than offsetting lower yields.
Brazil's Conab crop bureau, in its first estimates for the country's
cane, ethanol and sugar output in 2014-15, pegged the cane harvest at a record 671.7m tonnes, up
2.0% year on year.
Sugar production will rise even faster, by 4.2% to 39.5m
tonnes, despite a small drop in concentrations of the sweetener in cane, by 1.0
kilogramme to 133.4 kilogrammes per tonne of the crop.
Ethanol output will rise by only 1.5% to 412.2m litres,
implying an expectation of a swing by cane mills to producing sugar rather than
the biofuel, encouraged by the recovery in prices of the sweetener.
'Lack of rain, high
Conab acknowledged the drought which hit much of the Centre
South region, responsible for some 90% of Brazil's cane production, from
December to February,
"Only in central Goiás and the south west of Mato Grosso were
favourable conditions observed for vegetative growth in sugar cane sugar," the
bureau said, cautioning of particular setbacks in central Sao Paulo, the top
"The lack of rain combined with the high temperatures
impacted productivity," with crops in parts of Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana
nursing damage from frost last year too.
Centre South cane yields will fall by 2.6%, led by a 4.5% decline
in Sao Paulo state.
However, the region's cane crop will rise 1.8% year on year
nonetheless to 612.9m tonnes, boosted by a 4.5% increase to more than 8.0m hectares
in harvested area.
"This increase is concentrated in states that had the largest
increase in new mills, and corresponds to the consolidation of the areas of
these new businesses," Conab said, singling out Sao Paulo, Mato Grosso do Sul,
Goiás, Minas Gerais and Paraná.
The estimate for the Centre South cane harvest is far larger
than that from some other forecasters, with Copersucar and Rabobank forecasting
figures as low as 570m tonnes.