South African Sugar Crop Forecast Cut as Rains Come Too Late

The South African Sugar Association cut its annual estimate for production of the crop by almost 4 percent as recent rains came too late to boost cane growing.

The sugar crop, of which the harvest is almost complete, is estimated at 2.1 million metric tons, down from a July prediction of 2.2 million tons, the Mount Edgecombe-based organization said on its website today. It expects 17.9 million tons of cane to be crushed, up from last year’s 16.8 million tons, according to the association.

“The recent rainfall will not affect this season’s harvest as the season is almost coming to an end,” Jennifer Crawford, a spokeswoman for SASA, said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “It will however assist in improving the cane crop in the 2013-14 season.”

Sugarcane farmers crushed 19.2 million tons of sugar in 2009 before a drought cut production in 2010 and 2011, according to data from the association. A nationwide strike by about 20,000 truck drivers, which started on Sept. 24 and lasted for 2 1/2 weeks, halted production at sugar mills in the country’s Mpumalanga province.

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