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Estimates about the 2021/22 orange season in the Brazilian citrus belt (São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro) have been revised down, due to weather issues in Brazil. Data released by Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund) in September estimated the harvest to be 8.9 % lower than that forecast in the first report, released in May, at 267.87 million boxes. In light of that, the output may be similar to that in the previous season (268.63 million boxes). Although the 2021/22 season is a positive biennial cycle, oranges have been smaller, which explains lower production.

Although the estimates from May considered rainfall below the average, weather issues have increased since then, with frosts and severe drought. Between May and August, rainfall accounted for 30 % of the usual for the period, according to data from Somar/Climatempo Meteorologia (weather forecast agency).

The lack of rains has been damaging majorly the plants in dryland, however, agents from Fundecitrus highlight that even irrigated orchards (which account for 30 % of the trees in the citrus belt) have been debilitated by the drought, due to the limited availability of water at reservoirs. It is important to mention that the scenario has worsened since the frosts in late July.

Besides the smaller size of the oranges, the rate of premature fall of fruits is one of the highest. As the weather is forecast to continue unfavourable until the end of the season, the scenario is not expected to change, raising expectations for low production in 2021/22. Also, the chance of La Niña phenomena to occur until late 2021 is high, which may result in lower rainfall in southeastern Brazil in the second semester. This scenario would limit the growth of late varieties.

INDUSTRY – With the probable lower harvest of oranges in the 2021/22 season, the number of fruits allocated to processors is supposed to be lower too. CitrusBR (Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters) has not revised processing estimates yet, but Cepea forecasts the industry to purchase around 225 million boxes of oranges (40-8 kilograms each) this season. If this is confirmed and sales of orange juice are near the usual, juice inventories are expected to decrease steeply, to less than 200 thousand tons (Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice Equivalent), even with higher yield at processing plants, which usually happens in years of low rainfall.

This context will demand high orange production in the 2022/23 season (higher than 330 million boxes) so that ending stocks are replenished with no risk of world shortages. This situation may favor the prices paid to farmers in Brazil.

Orange1 production forecast update totals 267.87 million boxes

The first 2021-2022 orange crop forecast update for the Sao Paulo and West-Southwest Minas Gerais citrus belt by Fundecitrus – performed in cooperation with Markestrat, FEA-RP/USP and FCAV/Unesp2 – is 267.87 million boxes of 40.8 kg each, differently from the 294.17 million estimated in May this year. The reduction of 26.30 million in relation to the initial expectation corresponds to – 8.9 %. The main reason for this crop loss is the poorer rainfall regime constituting the most severe water crisis ever to hit Brazil for the last 91 years3. The combination of this drought never before experienced by citriculture and successive frosts in July culminated in a gradual crop decline that has been seen as harvests progress and disclose totally atypical figures. Field surveys also show results other than expected for this time of the year for orange planted areas yet to be harvested. In general, oranges are excessively small, and early fruit drop reaches one of its highest rates. These factors make production go back to the same levels of last crop season that totaled 268.63 million boxes, despite fruit load being 12.50 % larger since this is an “on” year. In view of this data and the perspective of climate conditions remaining adverse until harvests end, fruit should present the most critical size and drop rate in historical data. If this scenario is confirmed, there will no longer be an increase in this crop in relation to the previous season, estimated at 9.51 % in May, but rather a smaller volume than the production in the last season (- 0,28 %).

1Hamlin, Westin, Rubi, Valencia Americana, Seleta, Pineapple, Pera Rio, Valencia, Valencia Folha Murcha and Natal.
2Department of math and science, FCAV/Unesp Jaboticabal Campus.
3National operator of the energy system – ONS. Data for the Parana River basin, encompassing the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goiás and Distrito Federal.

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