By Marcos Fava Neves
The first forecast of the 2017–18 Brazilian orange crop was published in May. Brazil expects a total of 364.47 million boxes, including the following:
- 68.49 million boxes of Hamlin, Westin and Rubi varieties
- 17.42 million boxes of Valencia Americana, Valencia Argentina, Seleta and Pineapple varieties
- 114.52 million boxes of the Pera Rio variety
- 123.04 million boxes of Valencia and Valencia Folha Murcha varieties
- 41 million boxes of the Natal variety
FRUIT PER TREE
Bearing trees of the varieties that make up this forecast total 174.78 million. In terms of fruit per tree, the average number in April 2017, not considering the droppage to occur during the season, was measured at 753 fruits per tree.
The bloom issuance and fruit-setting rate of the 2017–18 season, which took place between August and December 2016, benefited from the low yield of the previous harvest. That harvest provided a dormant period in the reproductive cycle, resulting in increased energy reserves in the trees of the general citrus belt. Weather conditions observed in this period also contributed to the increased yield.
The average number of fruit per tree may vary by 14 fruit more or less, which corresponds to 1.9 percent of the average number of fruit per tree obtained upon stripping. This figure is in accordance with the expected error of 2 to 3 percent used in sample sizing.
At this size, the average is estimated at 265 fruits per box of 40.8 kilograms. Smaller fruits are expected for this season due to the greater quantity of oranges on the trees, which limits their growth potential.
Similar to previous years, the droppage rate is estimated at 18.5 percent. The forecast rate is greater than in the previous seasons and is due to a greater production volume expected for this season. This might cause an extended harvesting period, which would increase fruit exposure to pests and diseases, with potential to cause fruit drop.
The expected Brazilian crop is bigger than the last four seasons. It is also approximately 14 percent higher than the average crop during the last 10 years of orange production in Brazil.
Greater production will help to start accumulating stocks again, which were at a critical level as of June 2017. However, these stocks will still be low when compared to the last 10 years. Brazil needs at least two more crops like this to return juice stocks to comfortable levels.
Like in Florida, the citrus belt in Brazil deteriorated structurally, so even in a year like this, where the weather was very good for the orange orchards, we don’t see the huge production that was seen in the past. Brazilian production will provide a little help to address at least one of the problems of the orange juice chain: the lack of supply and the uncomfortable level of stocks.
Marcos Fava Neves is a professor at the University of São Paulo (Brazil), international adjunct professor at Purdue University (Indiana) and author of “The Future of Food Business” (World Scientific, 2014).
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