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Colombian Coffee May Rise 56% After Missing Forecast

Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia, the world’s second-largest producer of arabica coffee beans, may increase its crop by 56 percent by 2014, recovering from a harvest that missed growers’ forecasts this year, President Juan Manuel Santos said.

Planting disease-resistant varieties will help boost output to 14 million bags in 2014 and 18 million bags in 2020, Santos told coffee farmers today in Bogota. The harvest this year “hardly will reach 9 million bags,” he said.

“It’s a lot lower than what we had expected after such bad production” last year, Santos said.

Arabica-coffee prices in New York have rallied 42 percent in 12 months, partly as rainfall hampers a recovery in Colombian production from a 33-year low in 2009. Above-average precipitation also may damage the 2011 crop, growers said.

Farmers will be in “serious difficulties” with next year’s harvest if wet weather that damages plants persists, Luis Genaro, chief executive officer at Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers, said today at a meeting of growers in Bogota.

The 2011 crop may decline from this year because of the spread of a fungus that thrives in wet weather, Agriculture Minister Juan Restrepo said Oct. 15.

The federation in October forecast a 2010 harvest of 9.5 million bags, down from its January estimate of as much as 12 million bags. Last year, production fell 32 percent to 7.8 million bags, the smallest crop since 1976.

Each bag weighs 60 kilograms, or 132 pounds.

Brazil is the largest producer of Arabica beans.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dale Crofts at dcrofts@bloomberg.net

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