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August 19, 2013

Parana Coffee Production Severely Impacted by Freeze in Late July

The hard freezes that occurred during the last week of July in the state of Parana in southern Brazil severely impacted the coffee crop in the state. State officials have announced that they expect a modest reduction in the 2013 crop and a very significant reduction in the 2014 crop.

The 2013 harvest was well underway with 60% of the crop already harvested when the frost hit. The coffee that was not harvested at the time of the freeze was essentially mature and the reaming coffee will be harvested by the end of September. The quality of this year's coffee crop had already been compromised somewhat with heavy rains during the last several months that slowed harvest progress and caused some of the coffee berries to fall off the trees. Producers will now have to bear higher harvest costs collecting the berries that fell on the ground.

The biggest reduction in the state's coffee production will occur with the 2014 crop. The state Secretary of Agriculture (Seab) estimates that one million sacks of coffee (60 kilograms each) of the 2014 harvest was lost or approximately 50% of the anticipated production. In some of the hardest hit areas in northern Parana, the loses are estimated at 60% with some municipalities estimating that as much as 80 to 90% of the 2014 crop was lost. The freezing temperatures impacted approximately 80% of the 82,000 hectares of coffee grown in the state.

Coffee trees cannot withstand even a mild frost much less the four consecutive nights of freezing temperatures that occurred during the last week of July. As a result, some producers have already started to cut down the affected coffee trees in preparation for replanting while others feel that pruning will be the appropriate measure. Either way, coffee production in the state will be impacted for the next three years.

State officials feel this would be a good time to take advantage of an unfortunate situation and renovate some of the older coffee plantings and they are in the process of formulating programs to assist the producers in this renovation. They also are encouraging producers to think about adopting more mechanization as part of the renovation process.

Coffee prices have been falling recently in Brazil and the Brazilian government has already announced that Conab will purchase three million sacks of coffee at R$ 346 per sack in an effort to keep prices from falling even further.