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SAO PAULO, May 25 (Reuters) - Above-average rains for this time of the year in Brazil's coffee producing regions have slowed down harvesting of this year's crop and might hurt the beans' quality, consultancy Safras e Mercado said on Thursday.
The coffee harvest in the world's largest producer and exporter has advanced only 4 percentage points from last week and is now behind the stage seen at this time last year, as well as when compared with a five-year average, said Safras.
The harvest had reached 15 percent of planted areas by May 23 compared to 17 percent last year and 16 percent in the five-year average. Considering Safras estimate of a total crop of 51.1 million 60-kg bags, the volume harvested is around 7.44 million bags so far.
"Beyond slowing down field work, the excessive humidity hampers coffee drying," Safras analyst Gil Barabach said.
Rains caused beans to fall from trees onto the soil, hurting quality. Barabach expects initial lots of new-crop Brazilian coffee to present a weaker cup.
Regions producing arabica coffees were hit harder by rains than the ones cultivating robusta.
Harvest of arabica beans reached only 10 percent of total area, compared to 14 percent at this time last year. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by Christian Plumb and David Gregorio)