Orange production in Brazil to drop 24% in 2024

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Orange production in Brazil to drop 24% in 2024

Fundecitrus Brazil, an association maintained by citrus growers and juice manufacturers from the State of São Paulo gave the first projection for the country's orange production in 2024. 

President Lourival Carmo Monaco said during a presentation that total production will reach 232,3 million 40.8kg boxes in 2024, a 24% decrease from the previous season. 

Juliano Ayres, the director of Fundecitrus presented the details for this year's crop and explained the drop in production volume. 

"This figure surprised us, it is our smallest crop ever," said Ayres. "We had various climate events that affected citrus production."

Additionally, he said that Brazil has struggled a lot with citrus greening, and that "to stay competitive, the citrus industry depends on overcoming citrus greening."

The season will be divided into three blooms, with the first three producing 93% of the year's total, and the last one with the remaining 17%.

Ayres said there will be drought conditions in the country throughout the next six months, with nearly 34% less rainfall than the average. 

Leading orange juice producer

Brazil is the world's leading orange juice producer but has struggled greatly with citrus greening disease. 

A study published by Fundecitrus showed a 56% growth of the most serious disease of citrus in Brazil's main orange-producing region encompassing parts of the Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states, Reuters reported. 

"It is a very delicate moment. We are in a situation where the correct management will be decisive in reducing the incidence," Fundecitrus' general manager, Juliano Ayres, said in a statement.

In August last year, Fundecitrus said orange production for the 2023/24 season in the citrus belt was estimated to fall to 309.34 million 40.8-kg boxes, 1.55% below the previous season's production.

Factors affecting the 2024-25 crop

Experts at the presentation discussed the main factors affecting the current orange crop. 

Ayres said the first point is climate conditions, with heat waves and low rainfall. 

"Only 36% of mature trees are irrigated, so with a drought period it causes stress in the plant," he said. 

After a rain period in June-July last year, the citrus belt of Brazil experienced record high temperatures, reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius in some regions. 

Three unexpected heat waves towards the end of last year which lasted for up to 10 consecutive days had a big effect on orange trees. 

An experienced grower present at the conference said that in more than 40 years in the industry, he had never seen a year like 2023. 

The successive heatwaves caused a significant drop in the newly formed fruits, known as fruitlets.

Since June 2023, the citrus belt has been affected by the El Niño phenomenon, classified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as one of the five most intense ever recorded.

In addition to the already observed climatic adversities, which resulted in a reduction in the number of fruits per tree, the forecast of drier weather over the next six months is expected to continue impacting the crop, further hindering fruit growth and increasing the challenge of keeping groves supplied with water even where irrigation systems are installed.

Although this crop has a smaller volume of fruit to be harvested and a high proportion of fruit from the first bloom, the early fruit drop rate is expected to remain high and is projected at 18.5%, just 0.5 percentage points lower than in the previous crop.

The main reason for that is the increased intensity of citrus greening, which in the previous crop was responsible for 8.35 percentage points of the total 19% early drop, resulting in an estimated loss of 32 million boxes solely due to the disease.

Additionally, other factors are expected to continue impacting this season, such as fruit fly and fruit borer attacks, fruit peel cracking, especially in regions with higher water shortage, as there is a higher share of fruits from the fourth bloom, and fruit drop caused by mechanical damage resulting from frequent machinery movement in plots with high density of plants.



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