When flying over the coffee region of Varginha, in the south of Minas Gerais, it is possible to see brownish spots in most of the plantations, signs of how the frosts on the 20th of the last day have burned the coffee plantations and indicate losses for at least the next two.
When flying over the coffee region of Varginha, in the south of Minas Gerais, it is possible to see brownish spots in most of the plantations, signs of how the frosts on the 20th of the last day have burned the coffee plantations and indicate losses for at least the next two crops.
"It was worse than I imagined... It's hard to see a crop that hasn't suffered anything," said agronomist Adriano Rabelo de Rezende, technical coordinator of the Minasul cooperative, after flying over farms in the municipalities of Varginha for the first time after the frosts, Elói Mendes, Paraguaçu, Alfenas, Machado, Boa Esperança, Nepomuceno and Carmo da Cachoeira.
After visually evaluating the dark spots in the coffee plantations, the agronomist estimated on Thursday that between 20% and 30% of the crops were affected by the intense cold, noting that the climatic phenomenon, which has been compared with the historic frosts of 1994, affected with greater intensity in the lower areas, where the freezing air is concentrated at dawn.
Minasul operates in important production centers in the south of Minas Gerais, a region that accounted for around 40% of Arabica coffee production in Brazil in 2020.
The cooperative's area was one more among several Brazilian companies –such as the Cerrado Mineiro– hit by last week's weather phenomenon, which made prices in New York skyrocket since 2014, given the bad weather in the world's largest producer and exporter.
Despite making an estimate of the area burned by frosts, Rezende believes it is too early to talk about the size of the losses, even more considering that there were forecasts of new severe frosts in the early hours of this Friday.
He explained to Reuters, who also took part in the flyover over the coffee regions, that the intensity of the “burns” caused by frost varies within the same plot, which makes any assessment difficult at the moment. But consider it a fact that there will be losses.
“It is a fact, 2022 will not be a year of high (productivity)”, he commented, referring to the biannual cycle of Arabica coffee, which in 2021 was low. He also considered that the coffee plantations were already suffering from the effects of a prolonged drought.
In another month, noted the technical coordinator while visiting the Mato Dentro farm with Reuters, in Varginha, the leaves dried by frost will all be on the ground, and it will be easier to know to what extent the coffee plants were affected.
Those most severely affected will have to undergo a more radical pruning, called recepa.
"If it is received, the next crop with significant production will only be in 2024", he said, commenting on the impact of frost on a crop that had already been pruned in 2021 to produce well only in 2022, but which will now have zero production in the year that comes and will yield little in 2023.
"Is very sad"
For producer Flávio Figueiredo de Rezende, with properties in Varginha and Carmo da Cachoeira, reached in intensities ranging from 90% to 20%, the 2022 harvest would be a record, but now if it is equal to the 2021 one, "it's of good size".
"It's very sad, but it's part of our fight," he said, while handling the branches, still with fruits from the current harvest, of a 15-year-old farm that had been completely burned down on the Coqueiro farm – frost, in general, does not cause problems for the grain ready for harvest, and yes for future crops.
He also reported that the sector was “surprised” by the intensity of the cold last week, which according to him can only be compared to the 1994 frost, the last major freezing weather event for coffee plantations in Brazil.
The producer also said that he believes that, however intense this Friday's frost may have been, it will hardly be able to bring additional relevant losses to the Varginha region, already punished by the previous event.
José Marcos Rafael Magalhães, president of the Minasul cooperative, which has farms in Coqueiral and Nepomuceno, assesses that the frost consumed most of the productive potential of his coffee, and also points out that the crops will take three years to recover.
He also reported that seedlings were burned by the intense cold, which should make life difficult for those who intend to move forward with new areas.
"The recovery will take a long time, in addition to having burned new crops, there are no seedlings to plant and expand", he pointed out, confident that the federal government will come to the aid of the coffee growers, an opinion shared by the other producer, who recalled a renegotiation program for debts after the frosts of 1994.
In a simple account, with the 60 kg sack having risen to more than a thousand reais, Magalhães assesses the loss of production in Sul de Minas between 5 billion and 6 billion reais in the next year, values ​​that give the dimension of an impact that it can be extended to the entire production chain without government action.
« Back to index