PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 14:59 UK, 20th May 2014, by Agrimoney.com
Colombia coffeee exports to hit 21-year high

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 coffee area.

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 coffee quality".

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.

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