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July 20, 2012

Brazilian Sugarcane Harvest Continues to be Slower than Expected

Brazilian sugarcane producers had hoped for a rebound in sugarcane production in 2012/13, but excessive rainfall thus far has resulted in a disappointing harvest season. After two years of declining production, the 2012/13 sugarcane harvest in Brazil will probably only register a small improvement over the disappointing 2011/12 harvest.

The slow harvest pace is the result of excessive rainfall, which in parts of Sao Paulo state exceeded 4 inches during the second half of June. During the month of June in southern Brazil, the sugarcane harvest was suspended for 11 days due to saturated conditions compared to just five days in June of 2011. The average yield per hectare thus far this harvest season has been 74.8 tons per hectare compared to 76.8 tons per hectare last year. The excessive rainfall has also resulted in a lower sucrose content of the sugarcane that has been harvested thus far.

During the second half of June, 31 million tons of sugarcane were processed in southern Brazil. This was much better than during the first half of June, but it is still 25% below the level of a year ago. Thus far during the 2012/13 harvest season 128 million tons of sugarcane have been processed compared to 177 million during the same period last year (-28%).

Copersucar reported that 42% of its associated sugar/ethanol mills were closed this past Wednesday due to rainy weather. The Copersucar association has a total of 48 mills in southern Brazil. The rainy weather has also delayed sugar shipments from Brazilian ports. At the Port of Santos in the state of Sao Paulo, ships are waiting 15 days to load sugar and at the Port of Paranagua in the state of Parana, the wait time is 25 days. Any time there is a treat of rainfall at the ports; sugar loading is suspended until the threat of rainfall has passed. The Port of Paranagua has long-range plans to construct retractable covers that would allow loading during times of rainfall, but construction has not yet begun.