29-May-2019 05:43:55 PM
By Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO, May 29 (Reuters) - Brazil's 2019 coffee crop, whose harvest has just started, is seen producing less high-quality beans than the previous season because of a higher number of flowerings and the outlook for more rains than normal during harvest, some industry experts said on Wednesday.
This year's crop was marked by several flowerings happening in relatively large periods between them, which will lead to beans with different maturities in the trees, they said.
Unless the farmer performs multiple harvesting operations in the field, which is not likely because it increases costs, the result is going to be a production that is not uniform.
"Buyers of Brazilian coffee can expect to have a smaller supply of high-quality coffee this year," said the chief trader of one of the largest exporters in Brazil.
He said overall production will be large, however, despite Brazil's off-year in the biennial cycle, because climate conditions were favorable for crop development.
The trader sees the crop at around 58 million bags, a view similar to that of the United States Department of Agriculture, and way above the projection of 53 million bags released on Wednesday by broker INTL FCStone.
Last season Brazil, the world's largest exporter, produced its largest ever crop, at 63 million bags, and quality was very good.
Nathan Herszkowicz, head of Brazil’s coffee processing association Abic, said that another possible obstacle for quality is the wetter-than-normal weather predicted for coming weeks.
“Excess humidity is not desirable in harvest time,” he said on the sidelines of a seminar in Sao Paulo.
Herszkowicz, however, said that it is a bit early for definitive conclusions regarding crop quality, since harvest will continue until around August.
Carlos Alvarez, president of Monte Carmelo coffee farmers association, in the Cerrado region in Minas Gerais, said producers have cut back crop care strongly because of low prices, something that could increase problems with insects and fungus.
“We have no money left for crop care. And with the weak real, chemicals and fertilizers got more expensive,” he said, referring to Brazil's currency devaluation amid political instability.
Coffee prices have been hovering around the lowest levels in a decade, with supplies comfortably surpassing demand in the last two years.