Low rainfall concerns citrus farmers in São Paulo; prices for tahiti lime drop in April

Cepea, May 3, 2021 – With the anticipation of the drought and rainfall below the average in the first quarter of 2021 in São Paulo (SP), the development of the oranges from the 2021/22 season is below the expected, majorly in non-irrigated groves. At the current stage of groves development (fruit enlargement), moisture is crucial, which is warning farmers about the volume to be harvested this season.

 

So far, it is believed that production will be small, but larger than that in the 2020/21 season (due to the weather in the second semester of 2020 and its effects on flowering and settlement).

 

Besides the number of fruits, which is not forecast to be high, citrus farmers have been concerned about quality issues that may occur because of low moisture. The top complaints are related to size (since fruits may take longer to reach the ideal size) and wilted oranges (riper fruits), largely pear and early oranges. On the other hand, until the end of April, fruit drop, which may also be worsened by the lack of rain, was not significant, according to farmers.

 

In order to avoid higher quality loss, some farmers may accelerate the harvesting, even if the oranges have not reached the ideal size and ripening, which may hamper sales and constrain price rises.

 

INDUSTRIAL YIELD – On the other hand, industrial yield may be favored by the lack of rainfall in citrus-producing regions, since less boxes of oranges may be necessary to produce a ton of concentrated juice.

 

TAHITI LIME – Opposite to the expected, tahiti lime prices faded in São Paulo State (SP) in April. Agents expected lower supply in the second fortnight of the month to underpin quotes, however, low sales (because of the restrictive measures to fight the covid-19 pandemic) kept supply higher than demand.

 

Thus, the average price for tahiti lime in April closed at 14.21 BRL/27-kilo box, harvested, 31% down from that in March and 18.5% lower than that in April/20, in nominal terms. This is also the lowest average for a month of April since 2015, in nominal terms.

 

With the drier weather and/or irregular rains in the producing regions, fruits quality decreased, hampering sales in the domestic market and, largely, exports.

 

Between January and March, the Brazilian exports of tahiti lime were lower than that in the same period of previous years, due to quality issues and the lower volume harvested in the first months of 2021, mainly in February.

 

According to data from Secex, in the first quarter of 2021, Brazil exported 30.8 thousand tons of tahiti lime, 11% down from that in the same period last year. Exports tend to decrease even more in the coming months, due to the beginning of the Mexican season, lower supply in Brazil, higher domestic prices and lower competitiveness of the Brazilian fruit.

 

(Cepea-Brazil)

 

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