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Harvesting activities for ponkan tangerine have started in March in São Paulo state, but the volumes available are still limited. According to players surveyed by Cepea, the supply is expected to increase significantly from April onwards, when more fruits hit the ideal ripening stage.

First tangerines harvested come from irrigated orange groves, where the development is more advanced, such as in the north of São Paulo state and Minas Gerais.

The season is expected to continue up to mid-August, and the volume harvested may be similar to that registered in the last crop, according to agents surveyed by Cepea. As for the quality, it has been considered satisfactory, in spite of some cases of Alternaria citri, which have been controlled successfully.

The current low supply of ponkan tangerine has been keeping quotations attractive to producers. From March 25-28, the price average was at BRL 95.53 per 27-kilo box, on tree, 36.4 % up compared to the same period in 2023, in nominal terms.

The holidays of Good Friday and Easter, the end-of-the-month period and lower temperatures in late March have limited the demand for oranges. However, prices continue to move up due to the restricted supply. As for the tahiti lime, despite the low consumption, rains and the slow pace of the harvest limited the supply, boosting quotations.

The harvesting of late orange varieties began at a slow pace in mid-October. Although maturation was not ideal then, oranges were within the minimum standards required by the market, leading farmers to begin the harvesting.

The first variety available in the market was valência, followed by natal. Even the variety “folha murcha”, whose harvesting usually begins in December, arrived at the market in the first fortnight of November.

Agents expect supply (majorly of valência and natal oranges) to increase in the coming weeks, as the harvesting steps up in December – activities are forecast to end in mid-February. Also, the share of late varieties at juice processing plants is expected to gradually increase this month, accounting for the most part in December.

At juice processors, although quality standards (ratio and brix) are not within requirements, agents from the industry reported to be receiving late varieties – many of them blend these varieties with the juice from pear oranges without any quality loss. However, the supply of these varieties is still low because of difficulties to find labor for the harvesting.

The 2022/23 orange crop from Florida is expected to total 28 million boxes of 40.8 kilograms each, the lowest since 1935/36 and 32 % down from that last season, according to the estimates from the USDA.

However, the damages caused by hurricane Ian have not been considered yet. Thus, the recent report has concerned the agents in the citrus sector. The USDA’s next estimates are supposed to be released on Nov. 9th, however, the damages caused by hurricane Ian are not expected to be considered in that report yet, which is supposed to happen in the December’s report.

Thus, local agents believe Florida’s production will be at least 40 % lower than that forecast by the USDA. In 2017/18, when Florida was last hit by a hurricane (Irma), production decreased by 34.6 %, and agents agree that Ian was more destructive than Irma. Besides the damages caused to crops, warehouses and equipment were destroyed too.

In this context, the United States’ necessity of importing orange juice – which was already growing up – is expected to increase even more, which may raise Brazilian juice exports to the country. However, it is important to consider that supply has been low in Brazil, where ending stocks are forecast to be lower than the strategic level (of 250 thousand tons). In August, CitrusBR estimated the ending stocks in the 2022/23 Brazilian season (by June 2023) to total 140 thousand tons, considering higher exports to the USA – however, this increase did not consider the effects of hurricane Ian on Florida crops and production.

So far, imports are following opposite trends in the US, depending on the type of juice: for Not From Concentrate juice (NFC), imports are rising, while for Frozen Concentrate Orange Juice (FCOJ), they are fading. According to Florida’s Citrus Department, from October/21 to August/22, the US imported 9 % less FCOJ than that in the same period of the previous season; however, the imports of NFC juice increased by 43.9 %. On the other hand, ending stocks of both types decreased: 39.5 % for FCOJ and 25.3 % for NFC juice.

Brazil is the US’s major juice supplier. Considering FCOJ, 50.1 % of the total imported by the US in 2021/22 came from Brazil, which was followed by Mexico (42.4 %). Considering NFC juice, 78.6 % of the total imported came from Brazil, against 20.5 % from Mexico.

BRAZILIAN MARKET – The demand for oranges was low in the Brazilian market in the first fortnight of October. According to Cepea collaborators, the unstable weather (with rains and periods of lower temperatures) and the holiday on October 12 constrained consumption. Still, prices remained firm, majorly underpinned by the supply in the in natura market, which is being controlled. For tahiti lime, values faded, due to lower demand. But still, they continued at high levels.

The 2022/23 harvesting of early fruits is advancing in São Paulo state. In this scenario, industrial processing activities are following the harvesting pace and requiring more fruits.

According to players from the industry, the ratio of early fruits has improved and practically all fruits have been allowed for delivery, both in the spot market or for contracts. The industrial yield, however, is still low, which is common at the beginning of the crop.

Crushing activities are now taking place in eight processors in São Paulo: Araraquara, Araras, Bebedouro, Catanduva, Colina, Conchal and two in Matão. The companies have already been receiving some volumes of pera orange, but the majority is early fruits – the pera orange availability tends to increase from mid-September onwards.

In the spot market, values are ranging from 27.00 and 28.00 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, harvested and delivered at the processor. As for contracts, quotations may hit 31.00 BRL per box in big companies. In small processing companies, values are at 35.00 BRL/box.

Tridge, the global sourcing and market intelligence hub for food buyers and suppliers, has predicted how the La Nina weather system is likely to impact tropical fruit crops – avocado, mango, and pineapple – in parts of South America, Asia, and Australasia. These predictions can help food buyers globally to mitigate the risks of La Nina on their supply chains.

La Nina is a weather phenomenon that occurs every few years including 2020. During La Nina, changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures impact tropical rainfall patterns from Indonesia to the west coast of South America.

Avocado – New Zealand could suffer where Peru could succeed

La Nina is expected to have both positive and negative effects on Avocado.

New Zealand’s avocado growers have been suffering a prolonged dry spell and eagerly awaiting rainfall for 20 months. However, the heavy rain likely because of la Nina could be detrimental to their avocado yields.

Abhishek Dudejja, Engagement Manager at Tridge New Zealand, said, “It only takes two to three days of rainfall for avocado trees suffering from water stress to recover. Although avocado trees need plenty of water, too much can quickly tip the balance and cause problems such as root rot and asphyxiation. The impacts of this include reduced yields, and smaller and lower quality fruits with a shorter shelf life.”

In contrast, Peru, with a favorable geographical and climatic condition in South America could benefit from La Nina. The colder temperatures this weather system causes could help avocados mature more effectively. Irrigation levels are also currently at the right level for a good harvest.

Cinzia Riccio, Engagement Manager at Tridge Peru, commented, “While la Nina might cause later avocado flowering than normal, the cooler temperatures that are likely should reduce the level of pests, protecting crops. On balance, Peru Avocado appears to be a winner from La Nina.”

Mango – problems expected in Peru and Southeast Asia

For Mangos, the prognosis looks poor in several regions. Prolonged dry spells in Peru, added to an already dry 2020 could impact Mango productivity and prices. In Piura, northern Peru, the country’s top mango growing region, there have been ongoing water shortages and 50 % of its reservoir is depleted.

Jin Woo Lee, Market Analyst at Tridge, said, “This year we’re expecting Peruvian mango to be at least 15 % lower than in 2019, which will increase prices.”

In Southeast Asia, Vietnam and Thailand are experiencing typhoons and facing the prospect of more heavy rain and flooding. This could cause several issues for mango crops, including decreased productivity, internal rotting, canker, and fruit fly, which could mean suspension of exports for phytosanitary reasons.

Pineapple – Costa Rica feels the dual pressures of C-19 and La Nina

Costa Rican pineapples may be scarcer than normal in importing countries such as the US due to reduced demand and supply caused by COVID-19 and la Nina combined. 86 % of US pineapple imports are from Costa Rica, valued at 616 Million USD in 2019.1

Tridge’s Jin Woo Lee said, “COVID-19 has made reefer containers for pineapple shipping to the US scarce. Added to this, heavy rainfall over the past few weeks is affecting the quality of the fruit.”

Since October 2020, Costa Rica’s principal pineapple farming regions, Alajuela and Heredia, have seen well over two and a half times average rainfall2 leading to reduced yield and quality.

One US buyer of Costa Rican pineapples commented, “pineapples are normally sold at retail with a greenish-yellow exterior, which indicates full ripeness. However, over the past month, we’ve been receiving products which are either too ripe or not ripe enough to be sold properly, as pineapples stop ripening after they are picked.”

Despite this drop in supply, export prices to the US have decreased, because COVID-19 has caused reduced demand from US buyers. Equally, the heavy rainfall worsened by la Nina is unnerving Costa Rican suppliers about the quality of their product and therefore its value.

According to Jason Kong, Operations Managers at Tridge, “12kg of Costa Rican MD-2 Pineapples were traded at $6.2 in October 2020 but now they are at $5.0.”

Hoshik Shin, CEO of Tridge, commented: “La Nina will cause a turbulent end to an already difficult year for many fruit growers. It is another reminder of why both food growers and buyers globally need to be prepared for change and disruption and be ready to adapt or switch their supply lines and routes to market quickly using digital trading platforms and expert partners. At Tridge we’re supporting an increasing volume of organisations on both sides of the food supply chain who are seeking this agility.”

1Tridge: https://www.tridge.com/products/pineapple/import/US
2UN Seasonal Explorer: https://dataviz.vam.wfp.org/seasonal_explorer/rainfall_vegetation/visualizations#

About Tridge
Tridge is a global trade ecosystem where buyers and suppliers of agricultural and food products can find everything they need to understand their markets with just a simple search. Using a combination of the latest digital technology and the latest insights gathered through a human network, they provide a very powerful global-scale platform for buyers and suppliers to connect and do business with each other more confidently.
Using a global network covering over 150 countries worldwide, Tridge has developed a comprehensive data set of 300,000,000+ prices and 1,600,000,000+ trade data points covering 1000+ items in the agriculture and food sector and successfully facilitates the B2B and B2C trading of these items. Tridge aims to achieve digitalization and globalization of the trade industry.

There is a saying among those who have been in the industry for a long time: “there is no harvest like the other”. The current one is overcoming itself; such are the difficulties faced.

The first signs that the season would be different were given by last year’s bloom. Blooming in August and September 2019 was very good. However, a period with no rain in the following months accompanied by intense heat has caused an expressive fruitlet fall. The fruits developed until a 2-3 cm diameter size but were overturned by excessive heat. Rains came up in the end of October and a new flowering is expected.

The harvest season was preceded by the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. The great demand for labor, much of it coming from northeastern states in the country, concerned everyone and made us take extraordinary care to preserve the health of workers involved in the harvest and of other collaborators from other sectors of the properties.

Thus, the current harvest has been one of great surprises and has presented unusual challenges to citrus growers of the Brazilian citrus belt. The main consequences are presented below.

The period without rain, from May of this year until this last month of October, was one of the most extensive ever recorded in the state of São Paulo, according to the graphs and tables below. In addition to drought, very high maximum temperatures were recorded, even at night, causing considerable weight loss and lower fruit quality. The water deficit was very significant in all regions. This is the main reason for the significant decrease in the volume of fruit produced in the “citrus belt”. The losses are more accentuated in the north of the state of São Paulo and in the Triângulo Mineiro, warmer and drier regions.

  1. However, even further south in the state, losses were above normal. The first harvest estimate released by Fundecitrus, last May, brought an amount of 287.8 million boxes, 25% less than the previous harvest (2019/2020). What you see in the field is a volume of oranges quite below that number. The common perception among consulted technicians and citrus growers is that the final figure is expected to be below 250 million, perhaps below that.
  2. The period without rain and with temperatures well above the average resulted in extremely withered orchards – plants even died in orchards without irrigation. Another aggravating factor this year was the scarcity of water for irrigation. There are properties that have an installed irrigation structure; however, they do not have enough water available to meet the needs of the plants.
  3. The most difficult of all harvestsDue to the flowering in non-traditional months (December and January) there are a large number of “green”, not yet ripe fruits mixed with ripe fruits from the normal flowering (August-September 2019). This brings an additional difficulty to the harvesting operation that has to be carried out in at least two different times, resulting in an increase of the production cost for the citrus growers.
  4. This mix of fruits with different level of ripeness, impair the quality of the juices, especially due to the greater amount of limonin present in the green peels of oranges. On the other hand, in the northern regions of the citrus belt, the fruits are getting ripe much faster than normal, producing juices with a ratio (ratio between the amount of sugars divided to acidity) much higher than the average for the period of the year. Industrial income has been better this year than in the previous two years, at least until this time of the harvest (November 2020).
  5. As a further consequence of this year’s climate events, we will see an increase in the effects of HLB or greening. The symptoms of the disease, such as early fruit fall and low production, usually express themselves more strongly when there is a water deficit. In addition, the psilideo, vector of the disease, presented very high rates even in winter, indicating that we will have a greater number of infected plants in the next years. This has probably occurred because of the warmer climate which resulted in a very irregular or uneven plant vegetation.

What can we expect from the next crop?

The northernmost regions only flourished after the rains that fell in the last days of October. This late blooming should not have a good fruit set because they will be still small in the higher summer temperatures. Moreover, the loss of leaves was very great in the recent drought period, and this will not allow for a large amount of fruit for the next season, since the plant will not be able to provide the metabolites necessary for an expressive fruit set. A good 21/22 harvest is not to be expected for these regions.

In the most southern regions, which suffered less from water deficit, the flowering came in the normal period, between August and September. However, irregular rainfall and high winter temperatures (table 2), after flowering, have worried producers. What they see in their orchards does not indicate a good harvest for the second year in a row. My experience shows that the harvest after a year as irregular as this one is also not usually good.

The most difficult of all harvests

Price of juice should go up

Although it is common for citrus to have alternate crops, i.e., smaller crops followed by larger crops, the climatic factors presented in this article should result in two “small” crops in a row, the current and the next seasons.

Thus, Brazilian orange juice industries should process fewer oranges for two consecutive years. This reduction in supply, combined with the growing demand for juices in times of pandemic, should cause increases in the price of juices on the international market.

Author:
Mauricio Mendes
Citrus Consultant
Agriplanning Brazilian Agribusiness Company
GCONCI (Citrus Consultant Group)

Mauricio Mendes is a citrus consultant sine 1980 and Citrus grower since 1988. Has worked to major Citrus Farms in Brazil. Is COO of a 6.000 ha Citrus Farms operation in the SW od Sao Paulo State. Mauricio is also Beachead Advisor for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) . Also has been partner and CEO, for 14 years, of Informa FNP which is one of the most important Agribusiness consultant company in Brazil. FNP was recently acquired by IHS Markit.
Mauricio is also member of GCONCI (Citrus Farming Consultants Group) which gathers 17 Consultants. GCONCI provide direct technical assistance to over 40 million citrus plants (25 % of the Brazilian Citrus Belt)

*Araraquara and Itapetininga are major production citrus regions in São Paulo State.

Orange prices have been on the rise in the Brazilian in natura market this month – the upward trend of quotes has been observed since July. Although the share of late varieties is increasing in the in natura market, in general, supply is low, while consumption is increasing sharply, due to the current high temperatures in Brazil.

Between October 1st and 15th, the average price for pear oranges was 36.52 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 14.7 % higher than that in the first fortnight of September.

Low supply, mainly of high-quality oranges, is expected to keep prices on the rise in Brazil in the coming weeks. Besides, estimates for a 26 % decrease in the output of the 2020/21 crop should be revised, due to the drought and high temperatures in São Paulo State, which should reduce even more the volume harvested compared to the official estimates.

Data released in early October by the ABCM (Brazilian Association of In Natura Citrus) indicate that the 2020/21 citrus crops in São Paulo and in Minas Gerais States are, indeed, going to be lower. The drought faced by the sector in the major producing months hampered the development of fruits, which are small-sized. ABCM reported that, soon, the retail market and distributors may have lower supply of in natura citrus – or even a lack of products.

ABCM entrenches that the high temperatures and low rains between July and August damaged the fruits from the second flowering in the 2020/21 crop, which accounted for most of the output. In this scenario, agents believe that Fudencitrus’ next estimates, forecast to be released in December, may be revised down.

ORANGE JUICE – The 2020/21 orange crop in Florida was damaged by the hot and dry weather, which constrained groves’ productivity. Thus, the American orange output should be lower, which may lead the country to import higher amounts of orange juice. This scenario may favor the Brazilian sector, since Brazil is the top supplier of orange juice to the United States.

Between Oct/19 and Jul/20 (2019/20 season), the USA imported lower volumes of orange juice: 38 % of concentrated juice and 39.5 % of fresh juice, compared to that in the previous season, according to the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC).

Although the Brazilian juice is losing market share to that from Mexico, the orange harvest from Mexico in the 2019/20 season (Nov/19 to Oct/20) decreased sharply, which may constrain juice production. According to the USDA, the Mexican supply should be 45 % lower than that in the previous season, and orange juice production, 60 % lower. Although initial inventories are high, juice supply should be 50 % lower.

However, it is worth to mention that the crops from São Paulo and the Triângulo Mineiro should also be lower in 2020/21. According to a report from Fundecitrus released last month, the harvest in the Brazilian citrus belt should total 286.72 million boxes, 26 % down compared to that in the previous season. This volume may decrease even more because of the drought in this region in the past months, which may even reduce supply in the 2021/22 season.

Artificial intelligence for the apple harvest

A world first goes into operation: The apple harvest has begun in New Zealand and the BayWa subsidiary T&G Global is using a commercial picking robot alongside human pickers for the first time. The robot was developed by the US start-up Abundant Robotics, in which the Munich-based Group acquired a stake in 2017. BayWa believes it is possible that apples from German orchards will be harvested with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) for the first time in approximately two years.

A lack of workers and increasing costs represent growing challenges, particularly in the speciality crops segment, which is heavily dependent on manual labour. “Without the limitations imposed by these external conditions, producers can use AI to increase productivity and thereby ensure that they remain sustainably competitive,” says Klaus Josef Lutz, Chief Executive Officer of BayWa AG. The use of robots to pick fruit from hard-to-reach parts of the tree also reduces the physical strain on employees. “We are investing in innovation and digitalisation to give fruit producers and downstream areas early access to such smart technologies – in New Zealand, Germany and other apple growing regions around the world.” If the external conditions, for example the way trees are planted and pruned in the growing region, are suitable, then such robots could also be used in Germany in approximately two years, says Lutz.

It took four years to develop the first commercial harvesting robot. In order to allow development throughout the year, the technology was tested and developed in the USA and New Zealand – in the latter case at orchards in the Hawkes Bay region owned by T&G Global. The successful use of the robots depended on the orchards being prepared accordingly, through higher density planting and special pruning measures. “The robot’s requirements are very complex,” says Dan Steere, CEO of Abundant Robotics. “The AI has to visually recognise fruit that is ripe for picking, pick it without damaging it, and navigate the orchard safely.”

Abundant Robotics will analyse the experience and data of using the picking robot during the current harvest season in New Zealand and use the information to help build the next generation of robots. T&G Global expects to phase in the use of robots over time as the technology develops and orchard planting systems are available to use more harvesting robots of this type at its orchards.

In marketing year 2018/19 FAS Warsaw expects that Polish apple producers will see a record-level harvest. Post forecasts Poland’s apple production to reach 4.0 million metric tons, a 43-percent increase from marketing year 2017/18. Post also expects marketing year 2018/19 fresh-apple exports to increase significantly over the previous year, due to record production and good dessert-fruit quality. …

Please download the full report as pdf-file under: https://bit.ly/2NejBtU

The pace of orange crushing in São Paulo State was in full swing in August, with eleven large-sized processors in operation. Still, agents from processors consulted by Cepea claimed that factories were operating at full capacity, due to high production in the citrus belt.

Nevertheless, agents from the sector expect the crushing pace to continue firm until early 2018 (when only a few plants usually operate), since a larger volume is estimated for the 2017/18 crop, requiring a longer time for processors to absorb output.

The harvesting of early oranges from the 2017/18 crop, in turn, has already ended in the main citrus regions from São Paulo – activities started in February, one month earlier than they did last year. According to Cepea collaborators, the last volumes, mainly of american valencia, were collected this month and allocated exclusively to processors. In September, crushing in the main processors from SP State should be limited to pear oranges.

As for late oranges, small amounts started to be harvested in August and some growers have already sent the first volumes to those processors that need fruits with lower ratio (to blend with other varieties). However, processors should start receiving these fruits only between September and October.

Purchases in the spot market have been occasional since the beginning of crushing activities in 2017. This pressed down quotes between May and August, compared to the same months last year. Last month, prices averaged 19.30 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, harvested and at the processor, 3.5 % lower than in August 2016, in nominal terms.

2018/19 – The rains that hit São Paulo State in mid-August should favor the opening of the first flowers, which, in turn, will become the oranges of the 2018/19 season. As most plants were already sprouting in early August, the first flowers should start to open in mid-September.

For growers, the drought and the low temperatures in July and early August favored the plants. According to agents, the oranges development, mainly of the pear oranges, was the same among all citrus regions (sprouting), except for southwestern SP (Avaré), where open flowers and fruitlets were already observed, favored by the higher humidity in the area. With the recent rains, growers increased fertilization and preventive measures to avoid problems, such as blossom end rot, which may affect the flowers and hamper production.

The harvesting of the early oranges in the 2017/18 season is slowing down in some citrus producing regions from São Paulo, mainly in cities with higher temperatures (where fruits mature faster). The last fruits to be collected, therefore, should be harvested until late August, according to Cepea collaborators.

According to Fundecitrus (Citrus Defense Fund), the citrus belt should harvest 364.47 million boxes in 2017/18, volume 50 % larger compared to that in the previous season. Of this total, 68.5 million would account for early oranges (+ 42 %).

In late July, the deliveries of pear oranges purchased through contracts intensified in the main processors from SP, according to growers. That reflected on the price averages of fruits in the spot market. In July, early orange quotes averaged 18.32 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, 6 % up compared to the average in June; pear oranges prices, in turn, averaged 18.55 BRL per box in July, 15.2 % up in the same comparison – both values only include expenses with harvesting and freight to the processing plant.

Pear orange harvesting, however, should step up in August, as the supply of early oranges decreases. Regarding late oranges, mainly valencia and natal, the first volumes should be available only in September.

Purchases of pear oranges were occasional in July. In the first fortnight of the month, some pear orange trades reached 20.00 BRL per box, depending on the quality and ratio of the fruit supplied, regarding the standard demanded by processors.

According to agents from processors, early orange crushing should keep firm in August, in order to focus on pear oranges, in September. Thus, the gradual increase of pear oranges in crushing this month, added to the back to school period, may reduce the availability of the fruit in the in natura market, pushing up quotes.

Regarding the in natura market, not even the warmer weather favored demand for pear oranges in late July. Besides, supply of fruits with lower quality than that demanded by the segment increased as well. Last month, pear orange quotes averaged 16.17 BRL per 40.8-kilo box, on tree, 6 % down compared to that in June.