Colombia’s 2020-21 coffee harvest is lower than the expected output due to La Niña weather complications, which caused yields to be cut shorter.
La Niña — a climate pattern that breaks the normal conditions in the Pacific Ocean, with trade winds and affecting global weather patterns — caused heavy rains and overcast skies in Colombia. The last time La Niña affected the coffee production cycle in Colombia was in 2007, where the global temperature cooled down and there was extensive rain, which reduced sun exposure by over 30%.
For this year’s harvest, the significant changes in weather affected the yields for the mid-crop (mitaca) for which harvesting season is between the end of March to August — Colombia is one of the handful of coffee-producing countries that have two crops during the year.
The total expected output for this year’s coffee harvest is similar to the 2018-19 harvest cycle of 13,866 million 60-kilogram bags. In August, the chief operating officer of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (Fedecafe) Roberto Velez forecasted the harvest to be 13 to 13.5 million bags due to the return of La Niña.
Now, the expected output is at about 13 million — this is comparatively lower than last year’s cycle of 14.1 million bags. A trader in Bogotá stated:
The final production figures are very disappointing but after the many weather problems reported in the last few months when La Niña hit the southern regions, in particular, it’s not that much of a surprise at this point.
Fedecafe noted that production might still be able to reach 13.5 million bags from smaller harvests in Colombia. However, the downward trend of output is expected to continue. The first 11 months of the 2020-21 cycle dropped 7% as compared to the previous year — August production alone fell 16%, from 1.091 million bags to 915,000 bags.
The new 2021-22 harvest cycle, which officially started on the 1st of October, is also expected to be lower due to Colombia’s irregular weather conditions. La Niña is expected to return “in full force” later this month, a crucial harvesting time for the new crop.
Colombia’s weather obstacle adds to global worries for coffee production, following droughts and frosts in major coffee-producing countries like Brazil.