Orange juice exports

Climate, greening should cause orange harvest to decline

May, 14, 2024 Posted by Gabriel Malheiros

Week 202419

The advance of citrus greening and the forecast of dry weather are expected to affect orange production in the citrus belt of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. According to the first estimate from the Citrus Defense Fund (Fundecitrus) for the 2024/25 harvest, the harvest will be 232.38 million boxes of 40.8 kilos.

If the projection is confirmed, the volume will be 24.3% lower than that of the 2023/24 season and the lowest of the last 10 harvests. “The forecast indicates that the volume of rainfall in the next six months will be 30% to 40% of the need. This reduces tree reserves and fruit potential,” said Juliano Ayres, general manager of Fundecitrus. The estimate caused orange juice futures contracts expiring in July to rise almost 3% on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday, May 10.

Fundecitrus calculates that the orchard area should remain practically stable compared to the previous harvest, occupying 164.8 million hectares. There will be 35 million trees in production, or 5% more than in the 2023/24 season.

Mr. Ayres noted, however, that only 36% of the belt is irrigated. This means that, with drought, plant nutrition will be reduced. In this way, the expectation is that there will be fewer fruits per tree, but with a greater weight of 169 grams; the average in the last harvest was 160 grams. “With less fruit, they can grow more, but there is very little fruit per tree,” he said.

The expected rate of fruit drop per tree is 18.5%, slightly below last season’s rate of 19%. According to Fundecitrus, the reason for the decrease is that dry weather causes oranges to ripen more quickly. As a result, the industry also harvests and processes more quickly, avoiding losses.

Mr. Ayres states that the fight against greening continues in the states and that, for now, it is necessary to follow management techniques. “It is better to leave the old trees producing now and then carry out a quarantine period to increase production in the future,” he stated.

For Ibiapaba Netto, executive director of CitrusBR, the estimate shows that, “for the fifth consecutive cycle, supply will be lower than demand, even with some accommodation in the market due to high prices.” He recalled that “the last positive biannual event, in which the sector managed to produce some surplus to build stocks, was in the 2019/20 harvest. Since then, weather events have reduced production capacity.”

Source: Valor International

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