Ample flowering seen in Brazil's top coffee state, rains on the way

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By Marcelo Teixeira

SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Coffee trees all over Brazil’s top producing state Minas Gerais have bloomed this week, marking the first major flowering for the new Brazilian coffee crop that could indicate the size of next year’s production.

Farmers and analysts shared pictures and videos of their crops, with trees full of flowers or flower buds. Agronomists say a good flowering, ample and uniform, followed by adequate moisture and mild temperatures, could lead to good production.

“In general, flowering was good, but we are anxious about the next rains and praying for temperatures to stay bland,” said Mariana Caetano, chief operating officer at Guima Cafés, a coffee producer controlled by Brazilian bank BMG, with 900 hectares in the Cerrado region in Minas Gerais.

She said rains had been scarce all around, below historical levels, and that the company had kept trees healthy using dripping irrigation. Reservoirs were running low, however, and Caetano was unsure whether irrigation levels could be maintained if rains faltered.

Paulo Piancastelli, who manages 210 hectares of coffee fields in the Triangulo Mineiro region, said the flowering was positive.

“We farmers end up sharing the best pictures we take, in places where there are more flowers, which are pretty. That way, we put some more pressure on prices,” he joked.

In fact, arabica coffee prices fell this week in New York, with traders commenting about the flowering, which could lead to a large crop next year in the world’s largest producer if weather conditions were adequate.

Haroldo Bonfá, a coffee expert at Pharos Consultancy in Sao Paulo, said the pretty photos and videos shared on social media could be misleading.

“Not all fields are the same. It was not a uniform occurrence,” he said, indicating many areas were not in good shape due to dryer-than-normal weather and lower crop care.

He said it was hard to assess how much of the flowering would turn into fruit to boost the 2020 crop. “We will probably have to wait until the end of October, early November to estimate numbers.”

Rains are expected in coming days, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon’s Agriculture Weather Dashboard, with up to 90 millimeters (3.54 inches) in the southern part of Minas Gerais.

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