| SAO PAULO, March 25
SAO PAULO, March 25 The El Nino weather
phenomenon may cause new problems for Brazil's drought-damaged
sugarcane, coffee and orange crops if it materializes later this
year, but it would create the perfect climate for the next soy
and corn harvests.
Climate models show Pacific ocean surface temperatures are
rising with an increasing probability of turning into El Nino
for the first time since 2009 in coming months.
In past years, the phenomenon has brought heavy rain to
parts of Argentina and southern Brazil, where hot dry weather
struck at the beginning of the year.
"It would be around June, the start of El Nino or at least
higher than average temperatures around the equatorial Pacific,"
said Franco Villela, a meteorologist at Inmet, Brazil's national
Though El Nino is not a certainty, companies and analysts
are already attentive to its potential impact on agricultural
superpower Brazil, the top exporter of sugar, coffee and soy.
"Initially it was a rare possibility but now some weather
forecasters are already saying there is a 75 percent chance that
El Nino may return," Stefan Uhlenbrock, senior commodities
analyst for F.O. Licht, said at an event in Sao Paulo on Monday.
For Brazil's main center-south sugar area, wet weather in
the late crushing season would reduce the sugar content in the
cane, he said. The world's largest sugar and ethanol producer
Raizen also said last week that El Nino rain
was a significant risk to cane harvesting.
"For cane, coffee and citrus it's the worst possible
scenario," said agrometeorologist Marco Antonio dos Santos of
Brazil-based Somar Meteorologia, adding that quality as well as
ability to harvest the crops would be affected.
Still, "non-stop" El Nino rains in June or July wouldn't be
all bad for agriculture in Brazil and are actually ideal for
soybeans and corn, he said.
Analysts at Thomson Reuters Lanworth in Chicago also said El
Nino conditions of increased precipitation in Argentina and
southern Brazil during South America's late spring and early
summer "generally resulting in favorable yield outlooks for the
Brazil is easing out of what was the hottest and driest
summer on record in the densely populated southeast, spurring
fears of water and energy rationing in a country where the
majority of power comes from hydro reservoirs.
The drought likely cut 11 percent off the current coffee
crop according to a Reuters poll of analysts and erased 25
million tonnes of cane according to F.O. Licht.
Climate conditions should be normal for South America's fall
over the next three months, before any possible El Nino effects,
said Villela. Frost in the south is possible within the next
month and moderate rainfall expected.
"Even with the forecast for normal rain, it won't be enough
to replace the losses we saw over the summer," he said.
(Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Stephen Powell)