Damp weather hits Brazil’s coffee harvest

April 13, 2013

Brazil's coffee harvest
Brazil’s coffee harvest

Damp weather could hamper the early stages of Brazil’s coffee harvest which kicks off in mid-May, threatening the quality of produce, forecasters told Reuters, while some weather patterns may also raise the risk of damaging frost this year. As well as potentially spoiling some produce, a wetter June and possibly July could slow harvesting and the flow of new supplies, but large carryover stocks from last year’s large harvest mean the market will continue well supplied.

“Coolness will allow some rain to occur in some northern coffee areas … but it won’t be seriously disruptive,” said Drew Lerner of Kansas City-based World Weather Inc, expecting mostly normal weather except for a wetter June. Rain can spoil the taste of coffee beans by causing them to ferment when they are spread out in the open air to dry after being picked, forcing farmers to sell them for less while pushing up the price of good quality beans that escape the damp.

Weather in the coffee belt usually turns bone dry for several months during Brazil’s winter, which begins in June. Forecasters expect the rain to be more an annoyance early on in the harvest than a major disruption. Both World Weather’s Lerner and Sao Paulo-based Somar Meteorologia’s Marco Antonio dos Santos said cold fronts that blow into the coffee zone from Argentina to the south would be more frequent and make it rain more often.

The increased number of cold fronts, due to neutral ENSO conditions, meaning the absence of either a La Nina or El Nino anomaly linked to changing ocean temperatures, was also a factor that raised frost risk, judging by historical data, Lerner said. “But the solar maximum doesn’t reinforce that,” he said, referring to a cyclical increase in the sun’s heat output that is now nearing its peak. “These two trends kind of counterbalance themselves a little bit.” Frost is a rare occurrence in Brazil since coffee farms moved out of the cooler south after a devastating freeze in the mid-1970s. Arabica futures jumped 5 percent after a freeze was reported in August 2011 but slid just as quickly when it became clear trees suffered little damage. Source Reuters

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