Some coffee areas in Brazil hit by frost, say farmers

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Some coffee fields in the Alta Mogiana region in Sao Paulo state and in the south-west part of top producer Minas Gerais state in Brazil suffered damage from the frost reported in the country last week, farmers say.

Although most brokers and analysts said last week that coffee fields were spared frost damage, which they said mostly happened in corn and sugar cane fields, some coffee farmers said there were coffee areas hurt by the cold, adding it will result in less production next year.

“Coffee crops turned black. There was damage (by the frost) in a total area of around 1,500 to 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres),” said grower Anivair Teles Rodrigues, who also heads the local farmers’ union.

Rodrigues shared some pictures of coffee crops, with leaves on the trees showing a brownish color instead of the normal dark green of arabica trees.

He said that not only the trees will loose leaves, which can reduce production potential for next crop, but sprouts for the next flowering have probably been damaged as well.

Rodrigues estimated a likely 20%-25% reduction in production potential in those areas.

Juliano Diogo Pereira, an agricultural extension official with the state agency Emater, believes some 1,000 hectares of fields were impacted in the Ibiraci region. “It was a significant area, there will be some losses,” he said.

Frost impact was also reported in the municipality of Franca, in the Alta Mogiana coffee area in Sao Paulo state, said grower Jose Henrique Mendonça.

Broker and coffee exporter Escritorio Carvalhaes said in a weekly note to clients that frost damages to coffee areas “were not negligible”, adding that a more careful analysis by agronomists in coming days will determine the extent of damage.

Brazil’s Cooxupe, the country’s largest coffee co-op, also said potential impact on crops was under evaluation.

Reporting by Roberto Samora, writing by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise