Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, or Fedecafe, on Tuesday cut its forecast for production in the 2009 calendar year to 8.0 million 60-kilogram bags.
This is the sixth time since the beginning of the year that Fedecafe has lowered its forecast for 2009 production in Colombia, the world’s largest grower of top-quality mild-washed arabica coffee, after originally pegging the crop to yield up to 12.1 million bags.
Fedecafe General Manager Luis Genaro Munoz attributed the latest cut to higher-than-expected levels of the crop pests broca and rust disease, in addition to continuing renovation and reduced fertilizer use.
The latest figures would see Colombian coffee output end down 30% from the 2008 harvest of 11.487 million bags and down 37% from 12.607 million bags in 2007.
But he said production could recover sharply in 2010, owing to improved weather, a recovery in fertilizer use and a renovation program that has seen the replanting of older and less-productive trees.
He said, “100,000 hectares of renovated coffee trees will enter production in 2010. This guarantees that, under normal conditions of climate and fertilizer-use, Colombia should produce a minimum of 11 million bags.”
Last week Munoz said Fedecafe was expecting production in the calendar year 2010 between 11 million and 11.5 million bags, provided weather conditions were normal.
Some producers, however, said they are skeptical about the possibility that 2010 will see a sharp recovery in output.
“With the awful output at the end of 2009, we could recover to 10 million bags [in 2010] if we don’t have any more weather problems,” said Pedro Echavarria, one of Colombia’s leading private growers with 300 hectares of coffee in the top-producing province of Antioquia.
Echavarria, speaking to Dow Jones Newswires by telephone from the north-central province, said that 2010 production could come in between 7 million and 10 million bags depending on how severely El Nino-related weather problems continue to affect Colombia.
“I doubt it will go above 10 million bags [in 2010], it’s speculating about things that no one can predict, if we have another El Nino, it will damage the mid-crop,” said Juan Albero Arboleda, another large Antioquia-based producer, who also has about 300 hectares of coffee.
Colombian coffee production in November delivered to dry mills and warehouses run by Fedecafe, saw 4.5% levels of the crop pest broca, or triple the normal levels, Fedecafe said last week.
Producers here have for the past month said the sky-rocketing broca infestation, which potentially could be the worst in Colombia’s coffee history, could lead to a further cut in the last Fedecafe production forecast.
Colombia, with annual output of between 11.5 million and 12.5 million bags in recent years, is the third-largest producer overall after Brazil and Vietnam.