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RPT-Heavy rain to slow Vietnam coffee harvest

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 | 10:54 PM ET

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HANOI, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Rain was falling in Vietnam's Central Highlands coffee belt on Friday, state forecasters and residents said, potentially disrupting harvests and delaying bean drying.

The rain could get heavier in the five-province coffee growing region and southern provinces as a tropical depression formed by a weakened storm moves west towards Cambodia, the national weather centre reported.

Any slowing in what had been a rapidly quickening harvest could offer some support to global bean prices that have been mired near three-year lows.

"It's been raining since last night and it is also overcast today," a resident said by telephone from Buon Ma Thuot city, the capital of Daklak, Vietnam's largest coffee growing province. Vietnam is the world's top producer of robusta beans.

The country's coffee harvest - around a fifth complete according to trader estimates - and bean-drying could be disrupted through the weekend, delaying deliveries of fresh beans to nearby ports.

Coffee export prices in Vietnam dropped to the lowest in nearly three-and-a-half years on Tuesday, prompting farmers to slow their sales, traders have said.

Robusta beans in Daklak on Friday eased to 29,600 dong ($1.40) per kg, from 30,300-30,600 dong on Tuesday, as London's robusta futures market had been under pressure from the quickening harvest of Vietnam's huge crop.

Liffe January robusta coffee fell 1.2 percent to close at $1,447 a tonne on Thursday, not far above last week's over three-year low of $1,431. ($1=21,080 dong)

(Compiled by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Joseph Radford)