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UPDATE 1-Sugarcane crushing in Brazil's main growing area tumbles in early August

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SAO PAULO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Brazil's center-south sugarcane crushing fell 13.7% in the first half of August from a year earlier, bringing down sugar and ethanol production on the back of lower raw material availability, industry group Unica said on Wednesday.

Crushing in Brazil's main cane belt totaled 38.62 million tonnes in early August, missing market expectations as analysts polled by S&P Global Commodity Insights had forecast a shallower 7% drop to 41.4 million tonnes.

Unica's technical director, Antonio de Padua Rodrigues, said the latest figures followed adverse weather that delayed mill operations this season even as agricultural yields have increased 2.5% so far in 2022/2023.

"The amount of raw material to be harvested from September onwards will depend on the rainy season in the cane belt," Rodrigues added in a report.

Sugar output in the first half of August reached 2.63 million tonnes in the period, a 12% drop from 2021/2022, while ethanol production was down 10.1% to 2 billion liters. Unica's ethanol data also includes fuel made from corn.

Both those figures also missed market forecasts, which were 2.85 million tonnes for sugar and 2.11 billion liters for sugarcane-based ethanol, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights. (Reporting by Roberto Samora and Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Steven Grattan and Paul Simao)

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