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UPDATE 1-Brazil's center-south cane crush in April 50 pct ahead of year earlier

(Adds report details, comments from Unica) By Marcelo Teixeira SAO PAULO, May 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south, the world's largest sugar producing region, crushed roughly 50 percent more cane in April, the first month of the 2018/19 local crop season, than they did a year earlier, as dry weather accelerated field work. According to a report on Thursday by cane industry group Unica, center-south mills processed 59.8 million tonnes of cane 7in April, compared to 41.9 million tonnes in that month last year, confirming accounts related to Reuters last week about speedy activity in the Ribeirão Preto area. Mills continued to strongly favor production of ethanol, particularly hydrous ethanol, the type used as a substitute for gasoline at pumps by owners of flex fuel cars. Unica said output of that type of ethanol was at a record in the second half of April at 1.3 billion liters, as the price gap between the biofuel and gasoline continues to grow in Brazil with the rise in oil prices. Total ethanol production, including the anhydrous type that is blended into the gasoline sold in Brazil, reached 1.73 billion liters versus 993 million liters in the first half of the month. Sugar production reached 1.52 million tonnes in the second half of April, compared to 714,000 tonnes in the previous two-week period. Unica said center-south mills crushed 37.68 million tonnes of cane late in April versus 22.21 million tonnes in the first half of the month. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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