US farm officials sided with commentators more downbeat on
Brazilian cane production prospects, cautioning over low levels of replanting
besides damage from the drought which has revived prices.
The US Department of Agriculture bureau in Brasilia pegged
the cane harvest in 2014-15 the Centre South, responsible for some 90% of
Brazilian production, at 575m tonnes.
That represents a decline of 21m tonnes on last season, and is
among the more pessimistic views for the region, in line with those from the
likes of Louis Dreyfus and Rabobank.
Broker Sucden Financial is a little more optimistic, pegging the Centre South cane harvest at 586m tonnes, while the official Conab crop
bureau sees the crush in the newly-started season at 612.9m tonnes.
'Drought in several
The USDA bureau cited "drought in several growing areas in
the Centre South, which has delayed the maturity of the sugarcane", and reduced
According to the International Sugar Organization, the
region received 340mm of rain in the December-to-February period, "only half
the normal levels of over 620mm".
However, the USDA staff also flagged "below average
replanting of sugar cane", with area seen rising only 100,000 hectares year on
A wet weather spell last year represented a setback, in offering
"problems during the herbicide spray period", while the further spread of
mechanised harvesting would further depress yields.
Mechanised harvesting, while encouraged by Brazilian labour
laws, is less efficient that manual cropping.
Sugar output from the Centre South should fall by some 1m
tonnes to 33.55m tonnes, with the decline limited by some switch by mills
towards making sweetener rather than ethanol from cane.
The proportion of cane allocated to producing sugar is
expected to rise to 46.5%, up 1 point from last season, encouraged by a revival
in prices, with the balance used for ethanol.
Overall Brazilian cane production will reach 629,000 tonnes,
down 21,000 tonnes year on year, and sugar output hit 36.8m tonnes, down 1m
tonnes, with the performance in the North East expected roughly the same as
Sugar exports will fall in line, by 950,000 tonnes to 25.25m
tonnes, "due to lower expected sugar production, therefore lower expected exportable