Brazil Sugar-Cane Forecast Raised by Unica on Rain

Sugar-cane growers in Brazil’s Center South, the world’s largest producing region, will harvest more than previously expected as rainfall benefits crops, a director at industry association Unica said.

Output of the tropical plant used to make sugar and ethanol will rise to a record of between 580 million and 590 million metric tons in the season starting April 1, compared with about 580 million tons estimated in Dec. 20, Unica’s technical director Antonio de Padua Rodrigues said in a telephone interview today. Production will rise from 531.3 million tons in the current crop year.

“We have good, widespread showers,” Padua said from Sao Paulo. “So far I can say that crop yields won’t disappoint.”

Brazil’s Center South produces about 90 percent of the country’s sugar and ethanol. Latin America’s largest economy ships about half of global sugar exports.

Mills will turn less cane into sugar as Brazil plans to raise the mandatory amount of ethanol blended into gasoline to 25 percent starting in June from 20 percent now. Mills will turn between 46 percent and 47 percent of the cane into sugar in the coming 2013-14 season, the least in three years.

About 20 percent of crops are being replanted with higher-yielding varieties this year, Padua said. The replanting should translate into higher cane yields in the 2014-15 harvest, Padua said. Most growers use the plants for as many as six harvests because stalks grow anew after being cut.

Growers are stepping up planting after excess rain hindered the renewal of crops in past weeks, Padua said.

“We did have some delays in the past couple of weeks because of non-stop light rainfall, but mills will be able to catch up now,” he said.

Most of planting runs from October to March.

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