More than two dozen mills in India's top sugar producing state of Maharashtra had stopped cane crushing by the end of February, nearly two months earlier than last year, due to adverse weather, a senior state government official said.
The early closures suggest Maharashtra will produce far less sugar than the initial estimate of 13.8 million tonnes and bring down the country's total production.
Lower sugar output could prevent the world's second-biggest exporter from allowing additional exports, potentially supporting global prices and allowing rivals Brazil and Thailand to increase their exports.
The western state of Maharashtra, which accounts for more than a third of India's sugar output, has produced 9.51 million tonnes sugar in the 2022/23 marketing year that began on Oct. 1, down from 9.73 million tonnes at the same point last season, a senior government official told Reuters on Thursday.
"In Solapur division, 13 mills have closed and another 20 will close in a fortnight," said the state government official, who declined to be identified.
All mills in the state, except around two dozen, will close operations by the end of March, the official said.
Sugar mills in Maharashtra were operational until mid-June in 2021/22 as they harvested a record crop. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Jason Neely)