Forecasts Widespread Rains for Coffee Regions of Brazil Precipitation Comes at Key Time for Crop Development

October 17, 2007; 10:13 AM
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(State College, PA - October 17, 2007) - The Agricultural Forecast Center reaffirmed today its earlier forecast of upcoming wet weather in the coffee-growing regions of Brazil. This weather is likely to prove beneficial at a key stage in crop development.

The forecast calls for scattered rains later this week over coffee lands in central Brazil, the world's largest producer of coffee. By Sunday, rainfall will have totaled 0.50 to 1.25 inches for the week and coverage will be 60 to 70 percent. More widespread and heavier rains yielding 1 to 2 inches of precipitation are possible next week. The Center had advised private clients on October 5 of the forthcoming change to wetter weather.

Coffee beans develop from the flowers of the coffee tree. The production of the coffee beans is heavily dependent on the right moisture conditions during the tree's flowering cycle. Rain is necessary to initiate the flowering of the coffee trees. Once the trees begin to flower, the trees are most dependent on rainfall, and too little rain can hinder crop development. Perversely, too much rain during the flowering can also cause problems by prolonging the flowering stage at the expense of a peak harvest.

"It appears that Brazil's spring rainy season is now getting underway, albeit a week or two later than the norm. Rainfall in the next couple weeks is critical," said Ken Reeves, Director of Forecasting Operations. "While it looks like there will be normal rainfall in the next couple of weeks to successfully initiate the flowering stage, any shortfall may hamper crop development."

The coffee regions of Brazil are mostly dry from May to September with occasional showers yielding about an inch of precipitation per month. This year, the total for that five-month period was only an inch, about 20 percent of the normal precipitation. This dryness, coupled with the delay in the onset of the rainy season, prompted fears of damage to the Brazilian crop, and the price of coffee futures had risen sharply in mid-September and early October.


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