COLOMBIA – Colombian coffee production reached multi-decade highs in February, as growers reaped rewards from a long-term replanting initiative aimed at cutting plantations’ vulnerability to the dangerous rust fungus.  

Colombia produced 1.29m 60-kg bags of arabica coffee in February, national coffee growers’ group Fedecafe said.

This is an increase of 18% year-on-year, and the biggest February production number in 35-years.

‘Impresive’ figures

Colombian coffee exports were up 7% year-on-year in February, at 1.18m bags.

Cumulative exports so far this season, which started in October 2016, are now some 9% higher than the same time last year, at 6.28m bags.

“These are impressive figures and it would appear that Colombia is well on target for the forecasted 15m bags crop for the present coffee year,” said coffee trader I&M Smith.

The US Department of Agriculture sees Colombian coffee production in 2016-17 at 14.50m bags, the highest level since 1992.

Replanting programme bears fruit

South Africa-based coffee merchant I&M Smith said the rise in output is the product of “an extensive replanting program of aged trees and along with improved farm husbandry and inputs”.

Colombian coffee production plunged thanks to an epidemic of rust which took hold in 2008, forcing large-scale replanting with rust-resistant varieties.

As these trees reach maturity, Colombian production is bouncing back to multi-decade highs.

Weather risks

But I&M Smith warned of reports of excessive rains in parts of Colombia, which have resulted in “less than perfect flowerings towards the next crops”.

The trader warned that reports of wet whatever suggest that “perhaps the steady growth in Colombian coffee production might well taper off a close to present levels, for the short term”.

But, with no expectations of a severe El Nino, I&M Smith said that markets might expect to see “Colombian production once again increasing during the second half of next year”.

March 6, 2017: Agrimoney