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Colombia: Conflicting Production Expectations

Colombia Begins Picking Main Harvest, Growers and Exporter Anticipates Diminished Harvest

CoffeeNetwork (Bogota) – Colombia’s begins picking its main harvest with some key provinces revising upward their production estimate thanks to an improved output production for October-December.

Colombia, the world´s top producer of high quality arabica beans, could produce as much as 4 million 60-kg bags in the last quarter of the year, which is 9.2% lower than the 4.367 million bags produced October-December of last year, but higher than some apocalyptical estimates that pegged a sharply lower production hit by cloudy and rainy weather at the start of the year.

If analysts are correct, this country will meet the revised coffee production target of 14 million bags of 60-kg for the full year.

The country’s second-largest coffee producing region, Antioquia, has revised upward its production estimates for this year, claiming that the main harvest is coming improved, the Antioquia’s coffee committee of the country’s coffee growers told CoffeeNetwork.

Antioquia initially expected its output to fall around 16% in 2017 to 2 million 60-kg bags in 2017 from a year ago as torrential rains last year damaged the key flowering process hitting the region’s secondary crop. But now, Antioquia sees output totaling 2.32 million bags this year, unchanged from last year, as an improved main harvest will compensate the drop of the secondary crop.

Antioquia sees collecting 1.624 million 60-kg bags during its main harvest. Antioquia weights 16% of the country’s total coffee output.

Antioquia, located on the northwest of Colombia, will pick 39% of that harvest in October, 32% in November, and 10% in December. In September, the province picked 15% of the harvest and the balance 4% was picked in August, the coffee committee said.

“The current projection indicates a stable behavior in the quantity of coffee produced in relation to the year 2016. That is, about 2.30 million bags for Antioquia,” the coffee committee said. Coffee brought in 1.2 trillion Colombian pesos ($400 million) last year.

Colombian growers usually harvest the main crop from September to December, but the harvest was delayed until October because of cloudy and rainy weather. That output represents about 50% of the country’s full-year output. Colombia harvests in six of its eastern and central provinces.

Growers and Exports Disbelieve

But some coffee growers and exporters disbelieve in the projection of regional coffee committees.

Juan Alvaro Arboleda, a large coffee producer and exporter, located in the southeast of Antioquia, said coffee production in his province is expected to fall between 15% and 20% from last year because cloudy and rainy weather at the start of the year delayed flowering.

“Growers are saying in the southeast of Antioquia, which is the largest producing area that production is falling as much as 30%. Others are saying 15%,” Arboleda said.

In the South east of Antioquia, the bulk of coffee will begin to get collected beginning in mid-October.

Jose Manuel Naranjo Aristizabal, general manager of Sucafé, said output is coming diminished from last year because trees could not produce the same quantities as last year.

“After such an exceptional last year, trees lost their foliage and were very stressed this year. We won’t be able to produce as much as last year. We will probably see a recovery in 2018,” Naranjo said.
Sucafé sells coffee to large international coffee exporters like A. Laumayer and SKN.
Writing by Diana Delgado.

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