Updates from Origin

Stockton Graham & Co. has summarized some of the situations faced by our friends and buyers in the growing regions that we purchase coffee from.  We have tried to ensure the statistics are from the respective coffee export organizations in each country.

Colombia

Colombia has been in the news a lot lately regarding their harvest. Estimates for the 2010-2011  cycle are being reported as the smallest crop harvested in nearly 30 years with producers blaming two years of severe weather and too much or too little rain at the wrong times.

For instance, in one of the largest coffee producing provinces, severe weather from too much rain and then cloudy conditions have caused the trees to not flower and pollinate properly making the humid, wet conditions ideal for the broca to proliferate in large numbers, thus damaging the growing coffee cherries.

Broca is a small flying insect that lays eggs on the coffee cherry and whose larva destroys or damages the seed (coffee bean) within the cherry. Normally, in this province broca damage is limited to 1% to 2% of the total harvest and levels this year are estimated to run 8% on average.

Coffees in Colombia typically have one large flowering that allows for better pollination and for cherries to mature more consistently at the same time, but with heavy rain, pollination is occurring in smaller, more irregular intervals.  These made it harder for the flowers to pollinate and caused the cherries to grow and ripen at different times.

The smaller harvest has caused prices for Colombian coffees to be much higher than in previous years. For instance, coffee exports from Colombian for the month of October 2009 are off 37% from 2008 levels.  The reduced supplies and unknown impact of the next year’s harvest have led to higher prices for Colombian coffees.

Kenya

The Kenya coffee harvest is being impacted from one of the worst droughts in recent memory, leading to a lack of available Kenya coffees for export.  The main harvest production is estimated to be down 30% from prior year levels.  Harvesting of the main crop should last several more weeks.

Kenya typically produces a second smaller crop known as a “fly crop” and is picked several months after the main crop.  They have been blessed with some short rains that have helped on flowering and will hopefully help with a slightly higher fly crop harvest estimate.  Farmers are waiting to see if the drought conditions weakened the trees so much as to not allow them to support a good fly crop.

Hopefully, we can get an update in a few weeks as to cherry setting and better fly crop harvest estimates.

Central Americans

The new crop for Central American coffees is being harvested now and into early next year.  Our importers have been reporting higher prices for these coffees and heavy buying of coffees from Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador to help make up for the shorted Colombian supplies.

Jeff Vojta
Stockton Graham & Co.