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Crop loss of 25.6 % in relation to previous crop is due to lower nutrient reserves in plants and adverse climatic conditions

The 2020-2021 orange crop for the São Paulo and West-Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt is estimated at 287.76 million boxes of 40,8 kg, according to the online announcement made May 11 by Fundecitrus. This number is 25.6 % smaller than the previous crop of 386.79 million boxes, and 12.5 % below the average crop size for the last 10 years. Approximately 20.56 million boxes are expected to be produced in the Triângulo Mineiro.

Expected yield is estimated at 790 boxes per hectare, as compared to the 1,045 boxes per hectare in the previous crop.

“It is a small crop, considering the productive potential of groves, but that is due to the biennial production cycle of orange trees”, explains Fundecitrus general manager Juliano Ayres. “Since the previous crop was large, nutrient reserves this year are smaller. In addition, climatic conditions were adverse during fruit setting and the first phase of fruit growth”, he states.

Influence of the climate and late blooms

Crop loss was caused by a reduced number of fruits per tree in comparison to the previous crop. The large production in the previous season increased the consumption of nutrient reserves in plants, which became scarce and triggered the phenomenon known as alternate bearing. Furthermore, the climate was also a negative influence: high temperatures in September and October 2019 affected the setting of newly formed fruit.

Adverse climatic conditions were also seen in March and April 2020, affecting fruit at a more advanced stage of development. According to data from Somar Meteorologia, the accumulated rainfall volume in that period was not even half the historical average (1981-2010), which restricted fruit growth.

245.15 million boxes of the estimated production are of fruit from the first and second blooms (85.2 % of the total), 34.64 million boxes are of fruit from the third bloom (12 %) and 7.97 million boxes are of fruit from the fourth bloom (2.8 %).

Dry weather in March and April 2020 restricted the growth of fruits that should still be small at harvest. Oranges are expected to weigh 159 grams at harvest.

Alternate bearing in regions

Yield per sector this crop season, as compared to last year’s, shows significant variations among locations. The Northwest sector, encompassing the regions of Votuporanga and São José do Rio Preto, ranks first in yield drop. 492 boxes per hectare expected to be produced in that sector represent a drop of 46.7 % in relation to the 2019-2020 crop. Next comes the North sector (regions of Triângulo Mineiro, Bebedouro and Altinópolis), with an expected yield of 686 boxes per hectare (-35.9 %); then the Central sector (regions of Matão, Duartina and Brotas), with 721 boxes expected per hectare (-30.1 %); the South sector (regions of Porto Ferreira and Limeira), with 781 boxes expected per hectare (-16.5 %); and the Southwest (regions of Avaré and Itapetininga), where 1.185 boxes should be harvested per hectare (-2.7 %) (see the graph below).

“The greater drop in yield expected for this current crop, the larger the increment observed in the previous crop. This is one evidence of the biennial production cycle of orange trees, showing that usually the fruit load one year is inversely proportional to the fruit load in the previous year, causing variations in yield per hectare that alternate with the crop seasons”, analyzes PES coordinator Vinícius Trombin. “But the main reason for crop fluctuations is the climatic change that often occurs from one year to the next. In regions with more stable climate, such as Avaré and Itapetininga, yield variations are smaller”, adds the survey coordinator.

Recovery of orange juice consumption

The São Paulo and West-Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt is the largest worldwide producer of orange for processing. According to PES methodological coordinator and Professor at USP and FGV Marcos Fava Neves, the 2020-2021 crop and the inventory volume are now balanced due to the recovery of the demand for juice, heated up in major markets as a result of the COVID-10 pandemic.

“In view of an attempt to boost immunity, the citrus sector sees an increasing consumption of orange juice. It is an extremely nutritious liquid food”, he states.

Citriculture and sustainability

This year, based on methodology developed by Embrapa Territorial, PES has estimated the area of conserved woods on citrus farms: 182 thousand hectares throughout the citrus belt. On average, there is one hectare dedicated to conservation on farms for every 2.52 hectares of citrus groves. Data was obtained from cross-checking the information collected in the field by Fundecitrus with data from the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR).

“This work shows the important role of citriculture in environmental conservation and biodiversity, with large conserved areas integrated within farms”, says Trombin.

Methodology

For the estimate, orange trees were counted one by one in 2,557 plots and fruits from 1,590 trees were harvested throughout the citrus belt. “The reduced number of samples due to COVID-19 caused minor impact in the general survey result, which can be verified by the error of ±2.65% in the average number of fruits per tree”, PES methodology analyst and Professor at the department of engineering, math and science at FCAV/Unesp José Carlos Barbosa states.

The Crop Forecast Survey is carried out by Fundecitrus in cooperation with Markestrat, school of economics, business administration and accounting (FEA) of the university of São Paulo (USP) and the “Júlio de Mesquita” school of agricultural science and veterinary medicine (FCAV) of the São Paulo state university (Unesp).

Please download the complete forecast under: www.fundecitrus.com.br/pdf

Updated orange1 crop forecast totals 384.87 million boxes

The 2019/2020 orange crop forecast update for São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro/Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt, published by Fundecitrus – performed in cooperation with Markestrat, FEA-RP/USP and FCAV/Unesp2 – is 384.87 million boxes of 40.8 kg each. This figure corresponds to a decrease of 0.11 % in relation to the previous forecast update published in December 2019 and is 1.03 % smaller as compared to the first crop forecast announced in May 2019. Approximately 26.85 million boxes of the total crop should be produced in the Triângulo Mineiro region.

Rainfall remained below normal for most of the citrus belt from May 2019 to January 2020, according to data from Somar Meteorologia. Accumulated rainfall in this period averaged 836 millimeters for all regions, which is 14% or 139 millimeters below the historical average of 975 millimeters (1981-2010). Rainfall shortage was more pronounced in the Central, South and Southwest sectors, including regions such as Limeira, where the accumulated amount was only 690 millimeters, that is, 33% or 341 millimeters below normal.

Please download the complete forecast under: www.fundecitrus.com.br/pdf

1 Hamlin, Westin, Rubi, Valencia Americana, Seleta, Pineapple, Pera Rio, Valencia, Valencia Folha Murcha and Natal.
2 Departament of Math and Science at FCAV/Unesp Campus Jaboticabal.

Production in the citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) is higher in the 2019/20 season. The demand for fruits, in turn, was firm in 2019 because of low ending stocks of orange juice at processing companies from São Paulo. Therefore, higher demand and the record productivity in the field kept profitability positive. Moreover, the fact that most trades with the industry had been closed previously and at the same price levels observed on 2018/19 also favored profitability.

Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) released a report in December indicating that the orange production in the citrus belt may increase 34.7 % in 2019/20, totaling 385.31 million 40.8-kilo boxes. Productivity per hectare is likely to reach 1,041 boxes, a record. The good result is attributed to favorable weather during flower development (in the second semester of 2018) and to the fact that plants recovered after the previous lower production.

INDUSTRY – Prices for the industrial sector concerning the contracts closed in October and November 2018 ranged from 20.00 to 22.00 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered at processors, similar to that in the previous crop, despite the current high supply. However, for the producers who trade with companies in the spot market, values were at 20.00 BRL per box – in the previous season, they reached 26.00 BRL per box.

However, quotes in the spot market increased in December, scenario that may be related to perspectives for lower production in the 2020/21 season. As a result, one of the major processing companies started to purchase fruits at 20.00 BRL per box from December onwards – the average price most part of the crop was 18.00 BRL per box, harvested and delivered. Another major company continued to bid 18.00 BRL per box in the last month of 2019, but the price was 16.00 BRL/box during the season.

INVENTORIES – In 2019/20, the industrial demand was firm, due to low stocks at processing companies in São Paulo, of 253.18 thousand tons of orange juice in June/19, according to CitrusBR. This volume is 26.2 % lower compared to that in the 2017/18 season.

IN NATURA MARKET – Higher orange supply pressed down quotes in the in natura market in 2019. Between July and November, the average price for pear oranges was 29 % below that in the same period of 2018, in nominal terms.

However, the 2018/19 harvest was small, pushing up quotes, which hit nominal records from July to December 2018, considering Cepea series (since 1994). Compared to quotes in the 2017/18 season, price averages between July and November 2019 were 20 % higher, in nominal terms.

EXPORTS – After a season with low shipments, orange juice trades to the international market have recovered in 2019/20. The good performance is linked to the higher production in São Paulo and the possible needs to build stocks from juice bottling companies. In the partial of the season (from June to November/19), 550.13 thousand tons of orange juice were exported to all destinations, 46 % more compared to the same period last crop.

TAHITI – The market behavior was atypical in 2019. Despite the higher production, values were high throughout the year, sustained by firm demands (domestic and international). The average from January to November was 34.58 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, only 4.3 % down compared to that in 2018, in nominal terms.

Brazilian exports of tahiti lime hit a record last year. The dry weather in Mexico, major competitor regarding shipments to the European Union, favored exports good performance.

Updated orange1 crop forecast totals 385.31 million boxes

The 2019-2020 orange crop forecast update for São Paulo and West-Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt, published on December 10, 2019 by Fundecitrus – performed in cooperation with Markestrat, FEA-RP/USP and FCAV/Unesp2 – is of 385.31 million boxes of 40.8 kg each. This figure corresponds to a decrease of 0.80 % in relation to the previous update published in September 2019, and of 0.92 % compared to the first estimate of the crop, disclosed in May 2019. Out of the total crop, about 26.88 million boxes are estimated for the Triângulo Mineiro region.

Heavy rains in November on virtually the entire citrus belt eased the drought, but since May total rainfall stood at 17 % below the historical average (1981-2010): 409 millimeters in the average across regions, while historical average is 495 millimeters, according to data from Somar Meteorologia. The driest period was at the beginning of the crop season, from May to August, when the negative deviation reached 32 % in relation to the climatological standard normal. Although rains resumed in the first week of September, this followed a two-week window of dry weather on most of the belt, which characterized the occurrence of an Indian summer. It was not until mid-October that the rainy season began to set in, although the monthly accumulated rainfall rate was still below average. In November, rainfall was abundant and well distributed throughout the month, with accumulations ranging from 95 to 265 millimeters among the citrus belt regions. …

Please download the complete forecast under: www.fundecitrus.com.br/pdf

1Hamlin, Westin, Rubi, Valencia Americana, Seleta, Pineapple, Pera Rio, Valencia, Valencia Folha Murcha and Natal.
2Departament of Math and Science at FCAV/Unesp Campus Jaboticabal

The combination of lower orange supply in the Brazilian citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) in the 2018/19 crop with the recovery of Florida production is keeping the Brazilian exports of Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ) Equivalent low. This season (from July/18 to March/19), Brazilian juice shipments to all destinations have totaled 783.4 thousand tons, 14 % down compared to that in the same period last season, according to Secex. Revenue, in turn, has reached 1.4 billion USD, 12 % lower in the same comparison.

To the European Union, the biggest purchaser of the Brazilian juice, shipments have totaled 506.29 thousand tons this season, 8 % down compared to the same period last year. Revenue, in turn, has reached 941.2 million USD, 6 % down in the same comparison.

To the United States, the Brazilian exports of FCOJ Equivalent totaled 167.8 thousand tons between July/18 and March/19, 26 % less than in the same period of the previous season. Revenue reached 296.7 million USD, 27 % down in the same comparison.

The American demand for the Brazilian orange juice should not decrease too much in the coming seasons, due to the damages caused by greening, a disease with severe effects on production in the long term.

CROP END – Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) announced, on April 10, that the orange production in the citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) has totaled 285.98 million boxes of 40.8 kilos this season, 28.2 % down compared to the output in 2017/18 (398.35 million boxes). Compared to the average in the last 10 years, the current production is 11.6% lower.

Lower productivity was triggered by the weather (heat and drought) during fruit development. Low supply, in turn, kept high the need of Brazilian processing plants for oranges in 2018, limiting availability in the in natura segment.

MARKET IN APRIL – The higher availability of early oranges in the 2019/20 crop pressed down the quotes of all varieties surveyed by Cepea in the first fortnight of April. With the maturation stage below that demanded in the in natura segment, trades were limited. Between April 1 and 15, pear orange prices averaged 35.17 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 18.8 % down compared to that in the first fortnight of March.

TAHITI LIME – Tahiti lime prices have been firm in Brazil this year, which is not typical for a first quarter. Although harvesting stepped up (which is common for the beginning of the year, due to the crop peak), high demand for exports as well as from Brazilian processing plants is controlling supply in São Paulo State.

In this scenario, the average price in April (until April 15) is already the second highest for the month, in nominal terms, considering Cepea series, which started in 1996 for this product. The same was observed in the first quarter of 2019, when the nominal average in January was only lower than in Jan/18 and the nominal averages in February and March were only lower than in the same months of 2016 – tahiti lime quotes reached nominal records in Feb. and Mar. 2016 and in Jan. 2018, in the historical series.

Agents’ initial expectations were that the harvesting of the fruits from the second blossoming would increase tahiti lime supply in the in natura market in April, despite the smaller volume compared to that in the crop peak. However, mainly in January and February, the demand from processing plants was high and prices, appealing. Thus, many growers harvested all the fruits early in the year, reducing supply in March.

Some citrus farmers accelerated the tahiti lime harvesting early in the year, aiming to prepare the trees for production in the second semester of 2019 (when prices usually rise).

In early April, according to purchasers, it was still difficult to find high quality tahiti lime in the in natura market. While mature fruits were missing, the new ones were still green – for that reason, harvesting was postponed. Higher quality fruits, in turn, were allocated to the international market. Thus, between April 1 and 15, tahiti lime quotes averaged 23.49 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, a staggering 63.6 % up compared to that in the first fortnight of March.

The average prices of all orange varieties (in natura) surveyed by Cepea in São Paulo State were considered satisfactory in January/19 compared to January and December of 2018. This scenario was linked to the lower orange supply in the citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) in 2018/19. Thus, it seems the prices paid to the citrus farmers from SP will continue at high levels in February, mainly for the higher quality fruits, since the availability of early oranges should only grow from April onwards, when the first fruits of the 2019/20 can be harvested.

In the first quarter of 2019, harvesting should be limited to both the fruits that are out of the ideal period and the remaining of the late oranges. Some farmers have even ended activities related to the current crop (2018/19). Besides, the high temperatures usually observed in February may boost the consumption of citrus fruits in SP, reducing supply even more.

According to the citrus growers consulted by Cepea, although perspectives regarding the volume to be produced are positive, the weather is still crucial for a good crop development – it needs to rain significantly in the citrus-producing regions this month so that fruits growth and new blossoming are favored.

PRICES – In January/19 the average price of the pera rio orange closed at 30.42 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 52 % higher than in Jan/18 and 12 % higher than in Dec/18, respectively, in nominal terms. For natal oranges, the price average was at 26.34 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, 45.6 % and 8.6 % higher in the same comparison.

TAHITI LIME – For tahiti lime, on the other hand, the crop peak in São Paulo continued to press down quotes in January. However, farmers have reported problems caused by the high temperatures: some fruits were becoming yellowish and dropping down from trees, which may lower supply and push up the quotes of the higher quality fruits.

In January, the average price for tahiti lime was at 16.76 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, 18.2 % down compared to that in the same period last year and stable (-0.5 %) compared to the average price in December/18.

Despite the firm sales prices, lower orange production in the 2018/19 crop from the citrus belt (São Paulo and Triângulo Mineiro) should constrain the revenue of farmers who trade with processors, since the lower number of boxes produced per hectare tends to push up the unit price. Only in southwestern SP, where production has not changed much, revenue may remain at high levels.

According to data released by Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) on September 10, this crop should be 31.4 % smaller than the previous (2017/18), totaling only 273.3 million boxes (40.8 kilos) of oranges. This volume is 5.2 % lower than that first forecast by Fundecitrus in May.

Lower production estimates confirm the initial expectations of the agents consulted by Cepea, who believe that the performance of the current crop may have been compromised by both the high rate of flower loss from the first blossoming (between August and October/17) and the lack of rains in the first semester of 2018. Fundecitrus has reported that the average weight of all varieties is lower than that forecast in May, because of the severe drought (May – July).

Lower domestic supply, in turn, has boosted orange prices to processors this year. Besides, inventories from the 2018/19 crop should again decrease to critical levels by June 2019, according to forecasts from CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters), totaling only 146.7 thousand tons of juice, the second lowest in the CitrusBR series, which started in 1988/89, and only enough for two months of exportations.

After the new estimates were released, prices have been stable in the spot market, at 24 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and delivered at the processor. However, quotes had already increased last month, when CitrusBR anticipated that estimates from Fundecitrus could be revised down. Despite the smaller amount available for crushing, the average yield is forecast to be higher than in the previous crop, due to the dry period in the citrus belt from May to July (CitrusBR).

Most farmers have already closed deals with the industry – since November/17, processors’ bidding prices have been up to 22 BRL per box. Thus, if quotes increase at processors from now onward, the few farmers with fruits available will still be favored.

SHORTER HARVEST – The new report from Fundecitrus has highlighted that the 2018/19 crop harvesting may end earlier, which, in turn, may push up orange quotes in early 2019, when supply is usually low. So far, 36 % of the oranges from that crop have been harvested, 2 percentage points above the same period last season.

IN NATURA MARKET – The low supply of fruits with the quality demanded by the in natura segment underpinned orange prices in the first fortnight of September. Thus, from September 3 to 14, pear orange quotes averaged 30.81 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 10.6 % up compared to that in the first fortnight of August.

In the market of tahiti lime, supply is low, which increased quotes in the first fortnight of September – in the first week of the month, prices surpassed 90 BRL per 27-kilo box. Between September 3 and 14, tahiti lime quotes averaged 67.42 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, a staggering 83 % up compared to that in the same period last month.

On the other hand, higher quotes have constrained exportations, due to the competition with the fruits from Mexico. According to Fresh Plaza website, tahiti lime shipments to Europe usually step up starting June, both from Brazil and Mexico.

In general, the exportation season for tahiti lime was positive in the first semester, but shipments decreased in both July and August, according to Secex, by 21.5 % and 8.2 %, respectively, compared to the same months of 2017. From January to August this year, exports totaled 76 thousand tons, a slight 0.4 % down compared to the same period last year.