Climate: how much does it affect productivity?

Studies confirm that the Niña events of great duration are those that most impact the production of agribusiness

In mid-2014 the news of a high probability of occurrence of the El Niño phenomenon set off alarms and alerted more than one grower.

It was not be for lowerly. Climate is one of the factors that directly affects productivity, which forces us to prepare to face it in the short term and mitigate its effects in the long term, since its true impact is generally not immediate.

A quantification of the effect of climate on productivity carried out by Cenicaña using commercial productivity data, records of the Automated Meteorological Network (RMA) and statistical models shows that one of the factors that most contributes to the variation of the tons of cane per hectare is the external climatic condition of the year prior to harvest (Boy or Girl): 28.3%. The other factors are, in their order: cane age (24%), precipitation in the first three months of cultivation (17.3%) and rainfall in the month of the previous harvest (15.6%).

Likewise, an analysis of the variations in production in the period 1960 - 2013 confirms that the Niño and Niña phenomena are events that directly affect the tons of cane per hectare and the percentage of sugar yield.

“The Niña events of great duration are those that most impact production, especially in the second half of the event and up to a year after its conclusion, as has happened in the periods 1976-1977, 2000-2001 and 2010-2011. Said impact is due to excess humidity, trampling and damage to the vines during the harvest in humid conditions, "explains Fernando Villegas, agricultural engineer at Cenicaña.

The El Niño phenomenon can also negatively impact production, especially due to the deficit of water available for irrigation. There are records that in late 2006 and early 2007 production went from 120 t / ha to 106 t / ha due to the effect of a Child; immediately after this event ended, production began to recover and closed 2007 with an average of 117 t / ha.

Later, between July 2009 and April 2010, another Child was reported that caused a drought that aggravated the drop in production (102 t / ha in March 2010). But not necessarily every time one of these phenomena happens, there will be an important variation in the tons of cane per hectare, since everything depends on the magnitude and the way in which the climatic conditions alternate.

"It is convenient to keep in mind that the production of sugar and ethanol are highly dependent on a biological process such as the production of the crop, and just as the growth of plants is influenced by the climatic differences between different places, the growth varies from some years to others in the same locality in response to variations that occur in the local climate, "said Fernando Villegas.

The aforementioned reaffirms the value for the agro-industry of having climatological information of more than twenty years, collected through the RMA, as support for the productivity analyzes carried out by mills and growers and for Cenicaña's research in different areas of knowledge. .

But above all, it makes clear how decisive the climate is when making projections, better planning crop management, and taking measures both to reduce adverse effects and to potentiate good ones.

The adequacy of the fields is essential to improve the efficiency of irrigation in the summer seasons and allow runoff in seasons of abundant precipitation.

Climate Change

  • The past three decades have been successively warmer on Earth's surface than any decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, the 1983-2012 period is likely to have been the warmest 30-year period of the past 1400 years.
  • The global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 1971st century. Furthermore, it is highly probable that the rate of sea level rise is greater than that observed during the period 2010-XNUMX, due to the greater warming of the oceans, the loss of mass of glaciers and ice sheets.

Conclusions of the report 'Climate Change 2013: physical bases', prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC). More information in: es/science-and-solutions/

To consult

Article: Quantification of the effect of climate on productivity in the Colombian sugar agribusiness. Available in the digital version of the Quarterly Letter numbers 3 and 4 of 2010.

Work document: Variations in production in the agro-industrial sector of sugar cane in the Cauca river valley. Available in

Information letter
Year 2 / Number 2 / December 2014

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