Colombia will strengthen its newly-rediscovered grip on
third rank among world coffee producers next season, lifting its harvest to a seven-year
high, while heavy rains lower output in rival Indonesia.
Colombian coffee production will hit 11.9m bags in 2014-15,
the highest since 2007-08, as bushes mature that were planted a reseeding
programme aimed at promoting varieties resistant to the rust fungus, the US
Department of Agriculture's Bogota bureau said.
"Replanting efforts with rust resistant varieties and the
return to more normal weather conditions have continued to support a production
recovery," the bureau said in a report.
Besides the wait for new trees to mature, Colombian output
was also held back during 2009-11 by excessive rains, blamed on the La Nina
weather pattern, which promoted ideal conditions for the spread of rust.
But output has recovered strongly since, and its forecast to
hit 10.8m bags this season, with rust believed to have affected "only" 7% of
Colombia vs Indonesia
The rise in production will lift exports to 11.59m bags, a
21-year high, the bureau said,
"Colombian coffee exports have been expanding significantly
since 2013," with more than 40% going to the US.
The South American country's rising fortunes contrast with
those of Indonesia - which overtook Colombia to take third rank in coffee
output between 2008-09 and last season, when output was depressed first by hot
and dry weather which reduced flowering, before excessive rains set back fruiting.
Production in the South East Asian country is seen falling
for a second successive season in 2014-15, to 8.9m bags, depressed by "excessive
precipitation during the 2013 dry season", which disturbed pollination of the
flowers bearing this year's cherries.
"Robusta coffee, which requires wind and insect pollination,
is expected to face declines up to 500,000 bags," the bureau said.
Indonesian output is also being held back by "poor
agricultural practices" and by the extent of old trees, with waning yields.
El Nino threat
Indonesia's woes will curtail its exports to a seven-year
low of 7.2m bags in 2014-15, more than 4m bags behind those of Colombia.
However, Colombian growers may yet face their own weather
setbacks if an El Nino weather pattern begins this year, as expected, and which
has a history of cutting the country's rainfall levels.
Official Colombian meteorologists say that "the El Niño
phenomenon is on the horizon, and will create drought conditions towards second
half of 2014, which could stem the ongoing production recovery and affect
Drier weather would also encourage outbreaks of the broca cherry
borer beetle, "also impacting coffee quality and exportable supplies".
Some concern over Colombia's recovery was also raised last
week when data for April showed the first year on year fall in monthly output
since 2012, with output falling 14% to 832,000 bags.
In March, production rose 34% year on year.