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December 16, 2014

2014/15 Brazil Sugarcane Harvest Limping to a Disappointing Close

The disappointing 2014/15 sugarcane harvest in southern Brazil is limping to a close. During the second half of November, the sugar mills in southern Brazil processed 15.7 million tons of sugarcane which is 40% less than during the second half of November in 2013. For the entire 2014/15 harvest season thus far through the end of November, there have been 571 million tons of sugarcane processed in southern Brazil or 3% less than last year.

According to the Union of Sugarcane Industries (Unica), 136 sugar mills have closed down operations for the season due to a lack of sugarcane compared to 73 that had closed by the end of November in 2013. The early closing of mills is a reflection of the reduced sugarcane production especially in the state of Sao Paulo. The reduced production is the result of a drought last December and January and an extended dry season during September and October.

The Center for Sugarcane Technologies (CTC) is reporting that the sugarcane harvested in southern Brazil during the month of November averaged 63.5 tons per hectare or 15% less than during November of 2013. For the entire harvest season through the end of November, the sugarcane yields in southern Brazil are down 7.8% with the state of Sao Paulo down 11% (73.8 tons per hectare in 2014/15 compared to 83.8 tons per hectare in 2013/14).

The Total Recoverable Sugars thus far during the 2014/15 harvest season is 137.4 kg/ton, which is actually a little higher (+2.6%) compared to the 131.7 kg/ha registered in 2013/14.

The total sugar produced in southern Brazil through the end of November was 31.5 million tons or 4.9% less than the 33.1 million tons produced in 2013/14. In addition to low sugarcane yields, processors are also directing more of their sugarcane for ethanol production (56.5%) compared to sugar production. In fact, during the second half of November, 63% of the sugarcane processed in southern Brazil went toward ethanol production.

From April 1st through November 30th, the ethanol producers in southern Brazil have sold 16.3 billion liters of ethanol or 6.9% less than during the same period last year. This reduction is primarily a reflection of falling ethanol exports which totaled only 957 million liters thus far in 2014/15 compared to 2.15 billion liters of exports in 2013/14 or a reduction of 55%.