(Adds details of production, comments from Unica)
SAO PAULO/NEW YORK, July 27 (Reuters) - Brazil’s centre-south (CS) mills produced 2.94 million tonnes of sugar in the first half of July, 2.8% less than a year ago, as agricultural yields in the fields fall way behind last season’s levels, industry group Unica said on Tuesday.
Cane crush in the region was 45.6 million tonnes in the first half of July, 2.3% less than a year ago, while ethanol production increased 1.1% to 2.16 billion liters, Unica said.
Agricultural yield, or the volume of cane per hectare, was down 14% in the first half of July from a year earlier, based on preliminary information from 24 mills.
Unica said the data confirms a trend seen in previous reports, one of lower productivity this year.
It also said that frosts in June might have contributed to the smaller cane volumes per hectare, since some mills tend to cut cane sooner than planned if it was damaged by the cold.
The industry group said that it is still unclear the impact of the new cold wave that hit the center-south last week, causing extensive damage to coffee crops, for example.
Sugar production was broadly in line with expectations.
A poll by information services company S&P Global Platts with 10 analysts projected a production of 2.95 million tonnes in the period. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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