Colombia 2011 Coffee Crop to Fall 7.6%, Grower Says

Colombia’s coffee crop will fall at least 7.6 percent next year as the worst rainfall in more than three decades hurts plant development, a growers’ leader said.

Colombia, the second-largest producer of arabica coffee, will probably harvest 8.5 million bags, down from about 9.2 million bags this year, Hector Falla, executive director for the province of Huila, the nation’s second-largest growing area, said. Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers also said that output will drop next year, without providing a figure.

The harvest may fall below 8.5 million bags if wet weather that impedes plants from flowering persists, Falla said. Huila is Colombia’s largest coffee growing region after the province of Antioquia, based on this year’s output, according to Falla.

“It’s the climate,” Falla said today in an interview in Bogota. “The rainfall doesn’t allow for a lot of flowering.”

Arabica-coffee prices in New York have surged 42 percent in 12 months, partly as output in Colombia falls short of production forecasts. Above-average rainfall in the Andean nation has triggered landslides and flooding, while aiding the spread of a fungus that attacks coffee plants.

“We are seeing adverse production conditions,” Luis Genaro, chief executive officer of the federation, said today at a news conference in Bogota.

Next year will be the third straight year of “bad” harvests in Colombia, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said yesterday. The coffee 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 world’s largest producer of Arabica beans.

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