Coffee crops in Minas Gerais lose nearly 20 percent of planted area

Coffee Minas Gerais lose
The worst frosts in 27 years. Photo: São Joaquim Online/FP

Authorities in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais estimate losses of nearly 173,680 hectares in coffee crops due to recent frosts, the worst in 27 years.

Some producers have begun removing coffee plants from their land, either to replace them with new ones or substitute them for corn, soy, or beans. Coming just before the beginning of the wet season, replacing crops goes against technical recommendations and shows just how desperate farmers have become. Some lost up to 75 percent of their plantations.

Silvio Farnese, sale and supply director at the Agriculture Ministry, said the government will try to support producers as much as it can — in order to avoid them switching focus from coffee to grains. Last week, the National Monetary Council approved the use of BRL 1.3 billion (USD 248 million) in financing credits from a federal defense fund.

Brazilian producers are increasingly turning to robusta beans, as opposed to arabica coffee — looking to improve productivity levels. Less refined and less sweet, robusta coffee beans are more resistant to higher temperatures.