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Colombia’s Top Coffee Province Sees ‘Small’ First-Half Crop

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March 30 (Bloomberg) -- Colombia’s largest coffee-growing province will harvest a “very small” crop in the first six months after above-average rainfall damaged plants last year, a growers’ leader said.

Storms last year that knocked the flowers from coffee plants in the province of Antioquia means “there isn’t a mitaca,” as the early harvest is known, said Jose Sierra, a member of the committee representing farmers from the province at the National Federation of Coffee Growers, from Medellin.

Coffee has surged 81 percent in a year as adverse weather worldwide reduces supply of the bean used by specialty growers like Starbucks Corp., the International Coffee Organization said in a report this month. Rainfall in Colombia, the second-largest producer of arabica beans in the world, has been greater than growers expected, Sierra said in a telephone interview.

Arabica coffee for May delivery extended gains after his comments. Coffee rose 3.35 cents, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $2.6480 a pound at 14:00 p.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Flowering early this year will enable the crop in Antioquia to recover at yearend, he said. The province, which last year produced about 1.43 million bags, usually harvests about 35 percent of the year’s total crop in April and May and the remainder at year-end.

Across Colombia, coffee production this year will surpass last year’s 8.9 million bags of output, Sierra said. In 2009, the Andean nation’s crop fell to a 33-year low of 7.8 million bags. Each bag weighs 60 kilograms, or 132 pounds.

Brazil is the world’s largest producer of arabica beans.

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

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

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