Heavy rain in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province this month could delay grain ripening and harvesting, the country's weather bureau said on Tuesday, after flooding in August also hurt the area's crops.

Precipitation in eastern part Heilongjiang is expected to be 20% to 50% higher than normal in September, the China Meteorological Administration said at a monthly briefing.

Heilongjiang is China's top producer of soybeans and corn. Its eastern area was hit by two typhoons in August, with heavy rain flooding grain fields and paddies.(full story)

China, the world's No. 2 corn producer, is expecting a 2023/24 crop of 282.34 million metric tons, according to its agriculture ministry, although some analysts expect a slightly smaller crop because of last month's rain damage.

Up to 50% more rain than usual in most parts of northwestern China's Xinjiang region this month may also reduce the quality of cotton and slow harvesting, said Jia Xiaolong, deputy director of the National Climate Center.

Xinjiang produces about 20% of the world's cotton. The U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its forecast for China's 2023/24 cotton production to 5.9 million tons in August.

Despite some rain that will alleviate ongoing drought in western China, dryness will continue in northeastern Xinjiang, western Inner Mongolia, and western Gansu.

Moderate to severe droughts are under way in western China, including parts of Xinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, and Inner Mongolia, with extreme drought in central Gansu, Jia said.

The drought since June has threatened safe supplies of drinking water for humans and large livestock in the western regions, and curbed the growth of autumn crops, Jia said. (Reporting by Ningwei Qin and Dominique Patton. Editing by Gerry Doyle)