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(Adds analyst comment on impact to exports)
By Roberto Samora and Marcelo Teixeira
SAO PAULO, June 23 (Reuters) - Brazilian farmers had harvested around 35% of the 2022 coffee crop by June 21, a slower pace compared to last year and the historical average for this time of the year, consultancy Safras & Mercado said on Thursday.
The delay is hurting Brazil coffee exports, Safras' analyst Gil Barabach said, leading to higher spot prices for top quality coffees.
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 slowed harvest pace comes despite drier-than-normal weather in the main producing regions, which should help with field work.
Barabach said the harvest delay is due mostly to an uneven maturation of fruits and difficulties for farmers to find labor in some regions.
Brazil's coffee co-op Cooxupe, the country's No. 1 exporter, also reported delays. It said 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.
"Prices for export quality coffees have gone up for outright shipments," said Barabach, adding that farmers are in no rush to sell, waiting for even higher prices.
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 dry weather is not a worry for now.
Trees are still in good condition, he said, and are not demanding much irrigation. (Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; Editing by David Evans and Bill Berkrot)