Harvest: Best Crop Ever

Good weather conditions supported fruit setting and filling, especially in robusta growing regions. In addition, the majority of the arabica trees are in the on-year of the biennial production cycle.

Ample rainfall in the last year is yielding some the best coffee crop Brazil has seen in recent memory.   While Brazil is the world’s largest grower and exporter of arabica beans, and known for its strong base beans for blends, roasters are discovering some of the most exotic and unique flavors in the world are now coming from the country’s lush terrain. 

The production of Arabica coffee, which accounts for approximately three-quarters of the country's coffee output, is set to increase by 30% this year, to a total of 44.6 million bags. Robusta coffee is also due significant increases, to an expected 14 million bags by the end of the year. With each bag weighing 60 kilos, Brazil's total coffee production in 2018 could surpass 3.5 million metric tons.

An increase in production was already expected for 2018, as a result of the biennial bearing cycle of coffee trees, but the 30% predicted by CONAB, a federal government agency linked to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Supply,  would see the world's largest coffee producer break its annual record of 51.37 million bags in 2016.

CONAB publishes four different surveys of the coffee harvest throughout the year, with this recent announcement being the first of 2018, coming after the flowering stage of the coffee trees. Updated figures will be released in May, before the harvest, in September, during the harvest, and in December, once the harvest is completed.

CONAB has historically underestimated coffee harvest figures, making this year’s projection all the more promising. Dutch multinational Rabobank forecast the 2018 production figures to reach 59 million bags, for instance.

According to Aroldo Neto, superintendent of agribusiness data at CONAB, the favorable climate is responsible for the boom. "The flowering was excellent in the areas of Arabica and Robusta, the trees are in very good condition,” he told the Brazilian press in January.

The state of Minas Gerais, the top producer in Brazil, has helped push these figures up even further by making strong gains on 2017. A typical rainy season in the second half of last year accounted for the aforementioned impressive blossoming period, after years of irregular weather patterns in the region. The state is home to 68% of Brazil’s Arabica plantations.

Elsewhere in Brazil’s south-east, other states are also set to experience vast increases in production compared to 2017. The harvest in the state of São Paulo is expected to increase by up to 39.5% to 6.15 million bags, while Espírito Santo, the second biggest producer of coffee in the country, should see an increase of up to 50.4%. The state experienced a dry period in August which, according to CONAB, “created a water stress which, with the return of the rains in September, stimulated good uniformity of flowering in most regions."

By the Numbers:

  • Brazil's coffee harvest will rise to a record 60.2 million 60-kg bags in the 2018-19 crop year, up 18 percent year-on-year
  • The Brazilian coffee yield for 2018-19 was projected at a record 29.2 bags per hectare, up from 25.2 bags per hectare in 2017-18.

Coffee exports in 2018-19 were forecast at 35.3 million bags, up 16 percent from 2017-18