April 4, 2011

Rains Delay Start of Sugarcane Harvest in Mato Grosso

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

The sugarcane producers in Mato Grosso have not been very happy with the weather they have been confronting for the last several years. In 2009, their crops were inundated with heavy rains in October and November that ended the sugarcane harvest prematurely. In 2010, the hot and dry weather during an extended dry season that lasted nearly six months (actually 168 days without rain) reduced the sugarcane tonnage. Thus far this year, they have had to confront once again very heavy rainfall that is delaying the start of the harvest season and the replanting some of the crop killed by the dry weather.

The sugarcane acreage in the state is expected to increase 10% in 2011/12, but the production per hectare is expected to decline 10% resulting in the same sugar and ethanol production in 2011/12 as it was in 2010/11.

Once sugarcane is planted, it can be harvested for five or six years before it needs to be replanted, but the dry season was so severe in 2010 that some of the sugarcane died instead of re-sprouting like it normally does after being harvested. Those fields where the sugarcane died would normally be replanted during the rainy season, but continued heavy rains since the first of the year have kept the fields too saturated for planting.

The beginning of the sugarcane harvest is going to be delayed at least several more weeks and it may not be in full force until the beginning of May. A delayed harvest is not all bad because it gives more time for the sugarcane to become more mature and to have a higher amount of Total Recoverable Sugars, in some cases as much as 30 kilograms more per hectare.

There are eleven sugar/ethanol mills in Mato Grosso that processed 2.4 million tons of sugarcane in 2010/11 and they produced 446,000 tons of sugar and 860 million liters of ethanol.