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Brazil CS cuts 17 pct cane crop, ethanol priority

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 21 (Reuters) - About 17 percent of
Brazil's record 2007/08 (May/April) center-south sugar cane
crop was crushed by June 1, roughly similar to last year, with
ethanol being given priority, the Sugar Cane Industry Union

Unica has forecast that the center-south region will crush
a record 420 million tonnes of sugar cane this year, up from
371 million tonnes last season.

In a statement late on Wednesday, Unica said that 70.6
million tonnes of cane had been cut, against 69.8 million
tonnes a year ago.

It added that 2.97 billion liters of ethanol had been
produced, or 9.3 percent more than at the same time last year.

Sugar output totaled 3.6 million tonnes, or 10.5 percent
less than a year ago.

Unica estimated that 57.3 percent of the cane crush was
destined for ethanol and 42.7 percent for sugar, compared with
52.4 percent and 47.6 percent respectively a year ago.

It estimated that the agricultural yield of cane per
hectare was 4 percent lower so far this harvest compared with
last year.

The harvest was initially delayed by lack of equipment in
the mills, then by rain in May and a week's strike in June by
cane cutters at six sugar and ethanol mills in Sao Paulo

The center-south region grows about 85 percent of the cane
crop in Brazil, the world's No. 1 cane producer.
((Por Peter Blackburn))