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BRASILIA: Brazilian farmers had harvested around 35% of the 2022 coffee crop by June 21, a slower harvest pace compared to last year and also behind the historical average for this time of the year, consultancy Safras & Mercado said on Thursday.

Last year, farmers had harvested 40% of the coffee fields by this time. The five-year average for the period is even higher at 44%, the consultancy said. The harvest is lacking pace despite drier-than-normal weather in the main producing regions, which should help with field work.

Safras’ coffee analyst Gil Barabach said the delay in the harvest is due mostly to an uneven maturation of fruits and difficulties for farmers to find labour in some regions.

Brazil’s coffee co-op Cooxupe, which is the country’s number 1 exporter, also reported delays. It said in a report that 13.5% of the fields in the areas where it operates, around Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo states, were harvested so far, the slowest pace since at least 2017.

Safras projects the 2022 Brazilian coffee crop at 61.1 million bags, well above the government’s estimate of 53.4 million bags. Coffee agronomist Matheus Grossi, which also produces the beans in Patrocinio, Minas Gerais, said that the dry weather is not a worry for now.

According to him, trees are still in good condition and are not demanding much irrigation.

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