Brazil banks on record coffee crop after heavy rains
2018 production estimated at 53.89 million bags, but farmers warn dry weather in 2017 could yet impact yields
The bumper figure is the average of seven estimates compiled by Reuters as part of research on the world’s largest coffee exporter, with the lowest estimate at 47 million bags and the highest at 60 million bags.
The mean estimate for 2018 would put production ahead of the previous record set in 2016 with 51.4 million 60kg bags.
However, some close to the industry issued caution on the confident predictions, pointing out that several dry spells during the last 12 months could already have negatively impacted cherry production.
Head of Brazil’s National Coffee Council, Silas Brasileiro, told reporters that 2018 would be an ‘on-year’ for arabica – part of biennial production cycle which alternates years of high and low outputs. By comparison, 2017 was an ‘off-year’, with production of just 44.97 million bags.
“The crop tends to be bigger due to arabica’s on-year, but it would not reach record levels because of adverse weather in the last year”, he said.
Brasileiro cited reports from farmers that dry periods led to leaf loss in 2017, a factor which could stunt production this year.
Despite caution in some parts of the industry, one major exporter told reporters that there was “nothing in the way” of a bumper crop due to recent heavy rainfall. Some of parts of Minas Gerais, Brazil’s top coffee producing state, declared emergencies earlier this month after downpours washed away roads and caused landslides.
However, weather data from Reuters reveals that average rainfall in the south of the state, where much of the country's coffee is produced, was 432mm since mid-November – still some way off the normal 498mm for the period.