Projections for Brazil’s sugarcane harvest not so sweet

Drought and fewer crops suggest a difficult year for Brazilian sugarcane producers, and the industry has to choose between prioritizing sugar or ethanol

Sugarcane harvest plantation mailson pignata
Sugarcane plantation in countryside Brazil. Photo: Mailson Pignata/Shutterstock

Brazil’s 2021/2022 sugarcane harvest has barely begun but it has already been written off by several producers. Droughts and a decrease in planted area have pushed forecasts down, with the sector expecting an overall harvest of 628.1 million tons — 4 percent less than 2020/2021. 

And this decrease is projected to be even sharper in Brazil’s Center-South — comprising the Center-West, Southeast, and South — the country’s leading sugarcane-producing region.

Perhaps the main frustration for sugarcane producers is that the impending problems with the 2021/2022 harvest are largely out of their hands. The lack of rainfall between April 2020 and...

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