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UPDATE 1-Brazil sugar output sharply down late in Sept

(Adds report details, comments from Unica, tables) By Marcelo Teixeira SAO PAULO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south sugar output fell to only 1.28 million tonnes in the second half of September as rains reduced crushing activity and mills continued to allocate minimum amounts of cane to sugar production, industry group Unica said on Wednesday. Production of the sweetener was 55 percent lower than seen in the same period a year earlier, while cane crushing fell 31 percent to 27.6 million tonnes. Unica said mills allocated only 33.08 percent of the cane to produce sugar, one of the lowest industrial mixes levels ever, earmarking all the rest to the production of ethanol as the biofuel currently gives them better financial returns. Ethanol production late in September, at 1.63 million tonnes, also fell from the previous two-week period and compared to the same period last year, although less than the drop seen for sugar. (See tables below) "The expansion on ethanol production, considering the changes in the industrial mix at mills, will result in a cut of sugar supplies this season of 9 million tonnes compared to the last crop," said Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, Unica's technical director. He also said that at least five mills in the center-south have already finished cane crushing for the year, an unusual development since companies usually process the crop until later in the year. Unica projects that the other 32 mills will finish activities during the second half of October, as the season is cut short due to a quick harvesting pace earlier in the year and a smaller crop due to dryer-than-normal weather and aging cane fields. Agricultural yields for September came in at 64 tonnes per hectare, 10.5 percent less than seen a year earlier. Below are detailed figures from Unica's crop report for the second half of September (cane and sugar in million tonnes, ethanol in billion liters, total recoverable sugar-TRS in kg per tonne): BRAZIL'S CENTER-SOUTH - 2nd HALF OF SEPT (ANNUAL COMPARISON) 2017/18 2018/19 PCT CHANGE CANE CRUSH 40.46 27.64 -31.68 SUGAR OUTPUT 2.85 1.28 -55.01 ETHANOL OUTPUT 2.03 1.63 -19.81 TRS (kg/T) 159.30 147.61 -7.34 CANE TO SUGAR 46.55 pct 33.08 pct BRAZIL'S CENTER-SOUTH CUMULATIVE DATA - 2017/18 VS 2018/19 2017/18 2018/19 PCT CHANGE CANE CRUSH 468.78 457.93 -2.31 SUGAR OUTPUT 29.33 22.27 -24.08 ETHANOL OUTPUT 19.50 24.38 25.05 TRS (kg/T) 136.13 140.34 3.09 CANE TO SUGAR 48.25 pct 36.37 pct Source: Cane Industry Group Unica (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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