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The dry weather and high temperatures in São Paulo State are concerning Brazilian citrus farmers. Besides limiting the supply of higher quality fruits in the current crop (2020/21), this scenario may affect the output next season (2021/22), since trees are very weak, and the current stage (fruit settlement) is very critical – some farmers have already reported fruitlet drops.

Data from Somar Meteorologia (weather forecast agency) show that it rained in southwestern SP (Avaré and surroundings) between May and June, while in central and northern state, precipitation was extremely low. In July, the scenario became worse, with mostly dry weather in all the areas – the monthly average of rains was below 10 mm.

In August, rains returned to SP, but were concentrated in the southwestern region – in some areas, the monthly rain volume hit 140 mm. Thus, this area is the least affected by the weather, with larger-sized fruits and, so far, higher flower settlement (for the fruits from the 2021/22 season). On the other hand, northern SP (Bebedouro and surroundings) has been the most affected region, mainly non-irrigated groves, with many trees almost totally dry and weak. In central SP, the scenario is concerning too, while in eastern SP, the situation is intermediate.

It is worth to mention that, concerning the output in the 2021/22 crop, the current development period is critical and largely influenced by the water availability in the soil, temperatures and air moisture.

Although it is still early to confirm, farmers have reported that settlement of the first flowering (which occurred mostly in mid-July) has been compromised in most regions. New flowering may occur if rains are enough to interrupt the water stress (more than 40 mm). In this context, flowering may be heterogeneous, depending on the region and plants conditions, which would result in trees with fruits in different development stages.

GREENING – High temperatures and low air moisture are also favoring an increase in the psyllids’ population. According to Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund), the incidence of this bug in SP was high in the second fortnight of August, increasing the risk of spread in groves.

BRAZILIAN MARKET IN SEPTEMBER – With the high temperatures in Brazil, the sales pace has been fast in the market of in natura oranges. This scenario and the lower supply of quality fruits (due to low rains) underpinned pear orange prices in September. Between September 1 and 30, the average price for pear oranges closed at 32.78 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 9.2 % up compared to that in August.

In the market of tahiti lime, prices oscillated in September, but drops were more frequent. The number of fruits within the standard required in the in natura market was low, since most of them are wilted and small-sized, due to low rains.

The average price for tahiti lime last month closed at 59.38 BRL per 27-kilo box, harvested, 16% down compared to that in August. With the new devaluations, prices are now lower than that in the same period last year, in nominal terms.

Rains were below the average for October in three of the four main citrus regions in São Paulo State; therefore, growers were very concerned with the development of the 2018/19 crop. Although it rained in early October, the soil was really dry and the volume was not enough to recover moisture for flower settlement. This scenario, added to high temperatures, favored fruitlet drops.

Fruitlets had already dropped more intensely in the non-irrigated groves from central and northern SP, where the weather is usually drier and warmer – even before it rained in early October.

Agents do not expect significant sprouts in the plants with flower buds, even with the return of rains. Others, in turn, believe new flowering events may occur if rains are enough, but not as significant as the main event (from late August to early September).

On the other hand, in southwestern SP, the rain volume until October 19 had surpassed the average volume expected for the month, according to Climatempo (weather forecast agency). The only concern, according to growers consulted by Cepea, was with sharp temperature oscillations, which may lead to a higher rate of fruitlet drops.

CROP 2017/18– Regarding the current crop (2017/18), high temperatures led oranges on trees to wilt again, making it difficult for fruits to remain on the trees in the rainy period. The losses early in the month were estimated at around 20 % in older groves and at around 15 % in younger groves, mainly in the plants affected by greening.

In this scenario, the quality of in natura oranges was lower than that demanded by the segment, justifying price rises. In October, pear orange quotes averaged 19.24 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 11 % up compared to that in September.