Brazil's 2023 coffee crop is expected to reach 54.94 million 60-kg bags, a 7.9% increase from the previous year, government food and statistics agency Conab said in its first estimate for the new season.
Despite 2023 being an "off-year" in the biennial arabica coffee cycle that alternates years of high and low production in Brazil, the fresh crop is likely to surpass last year's output as the 2022 crop was impacted by previous drought and frosts.
Some independent analysts had already forecast a higher production on a yearly basis because of that. Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of coffee, accounting for nearly a third of global output.
Conab said Brazil's arabica coffee crop is set to reach 37.43 million bags this year, up 14.4% from 2022, boosted by a rebound in top producing state Minas Gerais.
Output of robusta coffee, on the other hand, is expected to drop a slight 3.8% from a record set in 2022 to total 17.51 million bags, Conab added.
Total planted area, considering both arabica and robusta, are set to hit 2.26 million hectares, a 0.8% year-on-year rise despite the "off-year" condition.
"It is worth noting that in 'off-years' in the biennial cycle producers tend to carry out crop treatments more intensely in fields that will only come into production in the coming years," Conab president Guilherme Ribeiro said.
He added that the roughly flat acreage in recent years has been offset by higher yields.
GRAPHIC-Soil Moisture In Brazil's Sugar, Coffee Areas Hit Seven-Year Peak
The above news followed news that agricultural areas where coffee and sugarcane are produced in Brazil, the world's largest grower and exporter of both coffee and sugar, are currently having their highest levels of soil moisture for the last seven years, according to Refinitiv's data.
The situation will lead to a larger sugarcane crop in Brazil's centre-south region, with consequently higher sugar and ethanol production, analysts say.
Regarding the coffee crop, they said the wetter weather will allow for larger beans, so farmers will need less to fill a bag, but it is too late for trees to have an increase in the fruit load since that phase in the crop's development has passed.
The graphics in this story, from Refinitiv's Agriculture Weather Dashboard, are based in SMAP sensors that show moisture levels (in %) present in the top one meter depth of soil.
The first graph below, for example, is from the main sugar belt of Ribeirao Preto in Sao Paulo state. The humidity level is much larger than any of the previous six years for this time of the year.
A similar situation can be seen in the Piracicaba area (graphic below), as well a very important region for sugarcane cultivation and processing in Brazil.
"Conditions are very favorable for sugarcane development. We are having typical summer climate with constant rain showers interspersed with sun," said agricultural weather firm Rural Clima.
Brazilian mills are expected to start processing a little earlier in 2023, around March, as some sugarcane was left in the fields last year exactly due to large volume of rains in December, which also helped boost water levels in the soil.
For coffee, the soil moisture situation is also very good, as the graphic below from top coffee belt of South Minas Gerais shows.
The same is true for another important production region in Brazil, the Cerrado Mineiro area also in Minas Gerais, as shown below.
Rural Clima said that the extra humidity comes at a good time for the 2023 Brazil coffee crop, when fruits (and beans) are gaining size.
Jonas Ferraresso, an agronomist who advises several coffee farms in Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states, said, however, that the high humidity will not change substantially the expectation for the coffee crop, despite helping bean size.
He said that the production potential for the 2023 crop had already been defined after the flowering last year.
"The trees look good, the crop is healthy, but the amount of coffee in the trees is far from the record we saw in 2020," he said.