Brazilian citrus forecast down after two strong seasons

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Brazilian citrus forecast down after two strong seasons

Good citrus crops from 2011 and 2012 will likely mean reduced output for Brazil in the 2012-13 season, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.

Stressed citrus trees from previous seasons and average blossomings preface a drop for the year.  If good weather continues, the Agricultural Trade Office in Sao Paulo (ATO) forecasts 455 millon boxes from July 2012 to June 2013, a 10% decrease from the previous year.

Sao Paulo and the western part of Minas Gerais will generate the majority of production, accounting for 340 million boxes, the ATO indicated.

In contrast, the Sao Paulo State Institute of Agricultural Economics (IEA) estimated in August an output of 363.2 million boxes for Sao Paulo.

The ATO and IEA methodologies differ. The ATO estimate includes the commercial area of the Sao Paulo state and the western part of Minas Gerais, including the major varieties Hamlin, Pera Rio, Natal and Valencia. The IEA estimate accounts for the entire Sao Paulo state and all varieties.

Boxes per tree is also expected to drop for the 2012-13 season. According to the USDA. 2.05 boxes per tree are expected, an 8% drop from the 2011-12 rate of 2.23 per tree.

Along the same lines, total hectares for orange production are expected to decrease by 10,000 down to 790,000, due to more dense planting and citrus grove replacement with sugarcane fields.

Exports should stay similar to the current season, reaching about 1 million boxes. Export stability is contrasted by a likely drop in domestic consumption, down by 46 million boxes to 138 million.

Of great concern to citrus growers is the loss of fruit that cannot be sold. Reports indicate from the 2011-12 season, 50 to 60 million boxes of oranges, mostly Hamlin, were lost because they were not crushed by orange juice processors and could not be absorbed by the domestic market.

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