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SAO PAULO: Rains that are forecast to reach Brazil's main coffee areas from the weekend and intensify in the days after could delay some harvest work in the world's top grower, but are expected to improve conditions for next year's crop.

According to analysts, rains of up to 80 millimeters (3.15 inches) in the main South Minas Gerais region will provide needed moisture for farms that have been mostly dry for much of the last 3 months.

"They are welcome, because the situation is critical," said Adriano Rabelo de Rezende, technical coordinator at the Minasul co-op.

"Water reserves in the soil are very low. The rains might disturb the harvest, but will help the plants, they will help the next crop," he said.

Brazil is in the off-year in the biennial arabica cycle which alternates between years of higher and lower production. Drier-than-normal weather during past months is set to cause a larger production fall than normal.

Gil Barabach, a coffee analyst for Safras & Mercado consultancy, said the impact to harvesting will be small because rains at this time of the year in Brazil are less intense.

The coffee harvesting process requires farmers to leave beans drying outdoors for some days, so rains are usually not welcome. There is also the risk of cherries dropping from trees, hurting quality.

Barabach said the precipitation will help replenish reservoirs used for irrigation.

Broker StoneX's coffee analyst Fernando Maximiliano said rains at this time in any other year would be a concern, but not this time. "It is going to be beneficial".

StoneX has one of the smallest projections for the Brazilian crop so far.

Maximiliano said he will tour coffee areas in coming days for a new assessment.The Brazilian government is expected to release a new projection for the crop next week.

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