Colombia Coffee Crop May Drop as Worst Rains in 25 Years Causes Fungus

Colombia’s coffee harvest may decline in 2011 after wet weather caused the worst outbreak of a plant-damaging fungus in a quarter of a century, a growers’ leader said.

Above-average rainfall for a second season will lead to a third year of “low” production in 2011, said Jose Sierra, who represents Antioquia, the nation’s largest coffee-growing province, at Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers. The group last week forecast 2010 output of 10 million bags.

Wet weather “triggers a lot of disease like the coffee- fungus problem,” Sierra said today in an interview in Bogota. “This phenomenon hasn’t been seen in 25 years.”

Coffee has surged 33 percent this year in New York, partly as weather hampers the South American nation from making a sustained recovery from its worst crop last year since 1976.

Coffee prices probably will remain high amid “scarcity,” Sierra said. Weather in Colombia has been “crazy,” because it is raining in months usually known for dry weather, possibly as a result of climate change, he said. Antioquia produces about 20 percent of the nation’s coffee.

Production in Colombia, the largest producer of mild arabica beans after Brazil, was little changed through July from the 4.82 million bags produced in the same period of 2009, when annual output was 7.8 million bags.

Each bag of coffee weighs 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

Arabica coffee for December delivery rose 3.65 cents to $1.8210 a pound at 1:01 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heather Walsh in Bogota at hlwalsh@bloomberg.net

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