Orange growers in Brazil, the world’s biggest producer, will harvest the smallest crop in at least eight years after rains hindered flowering, said Margarete Boteon, a University of Sao Paulo researcher.
Output may slump to 280 million boxes in the harvest that began in June, down 8.2% from 305 million boxes last year, said Boteon, who has been covering the market for a decade. Her forecast is less than the 286 million-box estimate from Sucocitrico Cutrale Ltda., the world’s largest orange-juice producer.
“The rains in October have damaged the first flowering and hence the yield will be reduced” Boteon said in a telephone interview. “Also, now the fruits are falling because of extremely dry conditions”.
Orange-juice futures have surged 43% in the past year, touching a two-year high of $1.53 a pound on March 8. The price surged on concern that Brazil’s crop may be smaller and after the worst cold snap in more than 20 years damaged about 5% of the crop in Florida, the second-largest producer.
Florida’s orange crop for this year will total 133.6 million boxes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said last month. Boteon is predicting 154 million boxes. A box of oranges weighs 90 pounds, or 41 kilograms.