Tuesday, 17 July 2012 01:48
SAO PAULO: Recent wet and overcast weather throughout Brazil's main sugarcane belt is a blessing for cane to be harvested in early 2013 but a curse for mills currently crushing and trying to ship sugar through the ports, meteorologists Somar said on Monday.
Unusually rainy weather in May and June over the main center-south sugarcane belt in Brazil let up in the first two weeks of July. This should improve the volume of sugar and ethanol produced by mills over the fortnight, Somar's long-term forecaster, Marco Antonio dos Santos, said.
But wet and cloudy weather started again over the weekend and is not expected to let up until July 19, he said. Rains temporarily dilute the sucrose levels in the cane plants and overcast skies inhibit photosynthesis. This slows mills harvest and makes the production of sugar and ethanol more costly.
Recoverable sucrose levels, also known locally as ATR, have been 3.9 percent below last year up to the end of June and they are not likely to recover immediately because of the return of rains, he said.
But the volume of cane crushed in the first half of July will improve from recent months due to the drier conditions before the weekend, dos Santos added.
The wet weather upon the region has also slowed loading of bulk raws at the ports of Santos and Paranagua, further to the south. Strikes by sanitary inspection agents are expected to slow the movement of goods through the ports.
It is unclear if the strikes will slow bulk cargoes of sugar. Traders have gone to the local courts in the past to secure the needed clearance for shipments.
The recent rains will benefit the next crop due to start harvesting in early 2013. The moisture helps germinate recently planted or cut cane and hastens the growth of biomass that will have the opportunity to accumulate greater levels of sucrose by the time of harvest next year.
Dos Santos said if El Nino weather patterns materialize later this year, as some forecasters predict, they will tend to contribute to greater rainfall over the cane belt.
Although harvesting of the current crop could be slowed toward the end of the crushing season in November and December, with the onset of the rainy season, rains will tend to let up earlier than normal in 2013 due to El Nino conditions, which will help the concentration of sucrose prior to the start of next season, Dos Santos said.
Copyright Reuters, 2012