December 10, 2012 / 5:13 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Dry November could increase Brazil cane crush-Unica

* Total cane crush could surpass 518.5 mln T forecast
    * Fewer mills have shut than by same time last year

 (Adds number of mills closed, details from report)
    SAO PAULO, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south cane,
sugar and ethanol production surged in the second half of
November thanks to dry weather that could result in a slightly
larger-than-expected cane crush this year, industry association
Unica said on Monday.
    Lack of rain helped ensure smooth harvesting and crushing
later in the season. This year 81 mills had shut down operations
before December compared with 246 mills that had closed by that
time in 2011 in the world's top sugar producer, Unica's report
said.
    The center-south region, which produces 90 percent of
Brazil's sugar, churned out 1.83 million tonnes of the sweetener
in the last two weeks of November, more than three times what it
had produced in the same fortnight last year.
    Total sugar production for the season reached 32.9 million
tonnes, surpassing last year's 31.1 million tonnes as of Dec. 1.
Total cane output reached 510.5 million tonnes, or 98.5 percent
of Unica's forecast for 518.5 million tonnes of cane.
    Unica President Antonio de Padua Rodrigues said the uptick
in productivity in late November had been foreseen in Unica's
official forecast, made in September, but dry weather had
extended harvest time. That could result in a slightly larger
cane crush than expected, he said.
    Unica's report said 50.82 percent of the cane crushed in
late November was allocated to sugar production, above the 44.6
percent last year at this time. 
    As rains come with greater frequency to the center-south,
mills will have more difficulty harvesting the last clusters of
cane and will favor the production of ethanol over sugar due to
the greater dilution of sucrose in the cane. 
    Sugar mills will begin to shut down in coming weeks as the
harvest comes to a close and will pick up again with the next
crop in April.

 (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer and Gustavo Bonato; Editing by
Bob Burgdorfer)

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