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Coffee crop progress in Brazil

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Brazil is widely known to be the world's biggest coffee-producing country, typically exporting in the region of 50 million bags of green coffee beans each year.

However, during 2014, the nation has experienced significant weather problems, affecting its crops and subsequently its coffee harvest.

Of course, we at DRWakefield have been keeping a close eye on the country's coffee crop progress, as whatever happens with the season's yield will have a knock-on effect on exactly what we can supply our roasters with in the near future.

Here, we're going to look at where the current problems relating to Brazilian coffee stem from and how they may be affecting farmers and their harvests.

No rain, no harvest?

There has been significantly less rainfall in Brazil throughout 2014 than in most other years, leaving agricultural land parched and undernourished in what has been the driest six months since records began almost 85 years ago.

Although there was some precipitation during July, the beginning of the year was largely without rain and this trend has continued since.

For the country's Arabica crops to flower and produce coffee cherries, they are in desperate need of rain – without moisture, beans may not form, meaning harvests and livelihoods could suffer.

There has been a small amount of rain within the past few weeks, but nowhere near enough to reverse the damage that has already been caused, meaning coffee crop progress has not been particularly significant.

Agrimoney quotes Sao Paulo University's research institute Cepea to have said: "Recent rains have not mitigated the lack of water…losses caused by the dry weather [are] already irreversible."

The institute also noted that "rains were registered in late September, but the volume was not enough to change the scenario…the first blossoming was not significant".

What does this mean for farmers?

Crops and exports are not the only elements likely to suffer this harvest season, as with severe droughts, farmers based in the more remote parts of Brazil will be feeling the effects of the situation too.

Speaking to the Guardian in early September, Sao Paulo water resources secretary Mauro Arce stated: "It has been a terrible year. The last rainy season was drier than the dry season."

However, with poor conditions and slow coffee crop progress in Brazil, Colombia and its bean growers could be set to benefit, as its Arabica harvest is currently performing well.

In fact, reports show it could be due to reach a 20-year high with regard to its yield during the upcoming season, indicating that not all is bad for South American coffee.

What does the current situation mean for the future?

With weather conditions showing no signs of changing anytime soon, concerns have been raised that the drought and subsequently poor coffee crop progress may continue into 2015.

Agrimoney reports that Brazilian cooperative Cocatrel has already lost around 30 per cent of its yield for next year due to 2014's weather, but that the coffee situation is "worsening every day" that doesn't involve rain. The group recorded a harvest of 1.5 million bags last year, but expects this to be significantly lower in 2014, at approximately 900,000 bags.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) back in August, coffee prices could increase significantly as the reduced harvest will be in great demand among traders and roasters alike, hiking costs up.

With a lower than usual harvest and increased coffee consumption, the global coffee industry could face a deficit in the region of ten million bags this season, the ICO has warned.

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