05 May 2011 18:56
* Rainiest April on record hits coffee trees
* Damage to roads will complicate exports
* Coffee prices seen staying high on fundamentals
By Diana Delgado and Mica Rosenberg
TENA, Colombia, May 5 (Reuters) – Colombia’s rainiest April on record drenched Ismael Garcia’s hillside coffee farm, causing a landslide that wiped out thousands of his trees in one swoop.
The loss would sting any year but hurts more now that coffee prices hit their highest levels in more than three decades this week.
Damage to farms like Garcia’s from months of heavy rains in Colombia, the world’s No. 1 producer of top-quality washed arabica beans, may threaten to push coffee prices even higher — bad news for drinkers around the world.
Colombia harvests coffee year-round and landslides blocking roads are complicating exports of already-picked beans, while downpours expected to continue for at least another month could knock ripe coffee cherries off trees and rot them in the fields. Wet weather can also cause fungus that cuts output.