Brazil Rains Seen by Somar Disrupting Sugar Cane Harvest

Above-average and frequent rains in Brazil in the second quarter are set to disrupt harvesting of this year’s sugar-cane crop in the center south, the country’s main growing region, according to Somar Meteorologia.

Rainfall will be persistent and may be about 30 percent above the historical average from April to June, according to Celso Oliveira, a meteorologist at the Sao Paulo-based weather forecaster. About 6 percent of the mills in the region have already started harvesting and most of them are expected to begin the season next month, Oliveira said. About 10 percent of the mills should start crushing before the end of the month, Lausanne, Switzerland-based researcher Kingsman SA, owned by The McGraw-Hill Cos., said in a report e-mailed today.

“For April, May and June, the frequency of rains will be more than reasonable for cane and this will disrupt harvesting,” Oliveira said by phone from Sao Paulo yesterday. “We cannot see 30 consecutive days of dry weather.”

The sugar-cane crop in center south will be 587 million metric tons in 2013-14, according to researcher Datagro Ltd. That’s up from 532.3 million tons a year earlier. Sugar output in the region may be 34 million to 36 million tons, estimates Deutsche Bank AG, which on March 8 recommended buying the earliest-dated raw sugar futures partly on a potential delay to the start of the harvest due to wet weather.

Double Normal

Rain in center south states of Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso and Goias will exceed 150 millimeters (5.9 inches) in the next 15 days, double the normal, Somar’s Oliveira said. In Sao Paulo, the biggest growing state, rain will total 70 millimeters in the same period, near the historical average. Less rain will fall in the states of Parana and Mato Grosso do Sul and will stop there after March 29 until at least April 2, he said.

Mills in center south may need to process at least 50 million tons of cane in April to avoid leaving some in the fields at the end of the season, according to Usina Alta Mogiana S/A. Crushing that amount will depend on the area having dry weather, Marcos Mine, a risk manager at the Sao Joaquim da Barra, Brazil-based mill, said on Jan. 31. Processing is starting “considerably earlier” this year than the last because of a bigger crop and higher ethanol prices, Kingsman said.

Raw sugar for May delivery gained 0.3 percent to 18.36 cents a pound by 11:50 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York, paring earlier gains of as much as 1 percent. Brazil is the world’s largest sugar producer.

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