June 22, 2018 / 6:40 PM / 6 months ago

Brazil cane crop size hard to gauge due to irregular rains

    By Marcelo Teixeira
    SAO PAULO, June 22 (Reuters) - Sugar market players in
Brazil are diverging widely about the  size of the 2018-19 cane
crop in the center-south, the world's largest sugar producing
region, as erratic weather makes it difficult to assess the
season's likely final tally. 
    The outlook for the center-south crop has been one of the
hot topics in the global sugar market after recent harvest
downward revisions due to below-average rains in key areas such
as Sao Paulo state.
    While some market participants believe the crop could fall
further, others see a tendency for recovery mainly in cane
fields outside of Sao Paulo that could prevent further cuts to
the overall center-south volume.
    Estimates for cane crush vary as much as 32 million tonnes
from the highest to the smallest view (see table below).
    "We had a dryer-than-normal weather in Sao Paulo in recent
months, indeed. But it was about normal in Mato Grosso do Sul
and Minas Gerais, for example, so it is hard to guess (the final
crop size)," Rui Chammas, chief executive of Biosev,
the Brazilian sugar unit controlled by commodities trader Louis
Dreyfus, told Reuters.
    Copersucar, which sells sugar and ethanol for 35
center-south associated mills, projected this week the region's
cane output at 555 million tonnes, the lowest estimate so far,
adding it could do another evaluation later this
month.
    Paraná state, which is expected to produce 37 million tonnes
of cane, has also had better weather recently. "We had good
rains last week, they will improve the conditions for cane to be
harvested later in the crop," Miguel Rubens Tranin, the head of
local industry group Alcopar, told Reuters.
    Fabio Meneghin, chief analyst for sugar and ethanol at
Agroconsult, says the consultancy is maintaining its number at
570 million tonnes for now. "We know that there were losses, but
seems that some projections were a bit drastic," he said.
    It is unclear if other regions could make up for losses in
Sao Paulo.
    "The situation in some areas, as in northern Sao Paulo, is
critical. I don't remember seeing such a prolonged dry weather,"
Vitor Campanelli, a large cane farmer and supplier to French
group Tereos in Brazil, said. 
    Thomson Reuters Eikon's Agriculture Weather Dashboard shows
no rains for most of Sao Paulo state through July 7.
        
       BRAZIL'S CENTER-SOUTH CROP 2018-19
 (Cane, sugar in million tonnes; ethanol in billion liters)
 SOURCE           CANE    SUGAR    ETHANOL
 Conab            580.2   32.8     26.3
 Datagro          562     29       28.3
 INTL FCStone     587.7   31       27.7
 JOB Economia     585     30       28
 Copersucar       555     28       27
 Agroconsult      570     29.4     27.2
 Archer           563     28.5     26.4
                                   
 UNICA 2017-18    596.3   36       26.1
 
    
 (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira
Editing by Tom Brown)
  
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