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Center-South Brazil H1 December sugarcane crush winding down for the season: survey

Sao Paulo — The amount of sugarcane crushed in the first half of December in Brazil's key Center-South region was expected to be 11.5 million mt, an increase of 9.8% year on year and 21.3% lower than the previous two-week period, an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts found Thursday.

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Estimates from sugar-industry association Unica were for 12.6 million mt, 1.1 million mt more than the Platts survey.

The volume drop was driven by mills preparing for the end of the year, sources said.

Analysts surveyed by Platts expected an average of 2.5 days lost to rain, compared with 6.5 days in 2H November and 4.9 days in the year-ago period.

If analysts' expectations were realized, the cumulative cane crush so far this season would reach 555.69 million mt, down 5.6% year on year. Unica official estimates were for 556.83 million mt, 1.14 million mt above the Platts survey.

The cane's total recoverable sugar (ATR) was expected to show a decrease due to mills winding down production for the end of the harvest at 118.4 kg/mt, down from 124 kg/mt in the previous two weeks. That figure would be a drop of 13.60 kg/mt year on year. According to the analysts surveyed by Platts, the range was between 113.5 kg/mt and 122.3 kg/mt. Unica official estimates for the cane's total recoverable sugar (ATR) was 120.87 kg/mt, 2.47 kg/mt above the Platts survey.

The proportion of cane used for sugar production in the Center-South in H1 December was expected to have decreased to 29.6% from 31% in the previous two-week period, according to the survey. It is still much lower than the 40.21% registered in the year-ago period. Unica official estimates were for 28.7%, 0.9% below the Platts survey.

As a result, sugar production was expected to total 382,400 mt in H1 December, down 24.4% year on year and 28% lower than H2 November. Unica official estimates were for 408,000 mt, 25,600 mt higher than the Platts survey.

Cumulative sugar production between April 1 and December 15 would reach 26.14 million mt, decreasing 25.5% year on year. Unica official estimates were for 26.17 million mt, 30,000 mt higher than the Platts survey.

As more of the sugarcane is expected to continue to be used for ethanol production compared with last year, hydrous ethanol output in H1 December is expected to reach 407.9 million liters. This would be an increase of 16.2% from a year ago and a decrease of 22.1% from H2 November.

Based on the analyst survey, April 1-December 15 hydrous ethanol production would be 39.2% higher than the year-ago period at 20.25 billion liters. The volume was an all-time high and already exceeds the total volume produced in the entire 2010-11 season, when a record 17.97 billion liters were produced. Unica official estimates were for 19.84 billion liters, 410 million liters below the Platts survey.

Anhydrous ethanol output in H1 December was expected to reach 165.6 million liters. This would be an increase of 15.8% from a year ago and a decrease of 24.7% from H2 November. It would be the lowest since the start of the season.

Based on the analyst survey, April 1-December 15 anhydrous ethanol production would be 14.1% lower than the year-ago period at 9.02 billion liters. Unica official estimates were for 8.85 billion liters, 170 million liters below the Platts survey.

-- Phillip Herring, newsdesk@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com