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Drought to hammer Mexico's 2024 corn harvest, government says



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MEXICO CITY, June 12 (Reuters) -A prolonged drought in Mexico is set to again hammer harvests this year, according to government estimates, as adverse weather conditions could push the country to rely on more corn imports from the United States.

Mexico's 18-month season should produce some 25.15 million metric tons of corn, according to a report presented by the agricultural ministry on Tuesday, including 21.89 million tons of white corn, used to make key staples such as tortillas.

While overall production should fall 9%, white corn is expected down 10% on last season.

Mexico mainly produces white corn, for which it is self-sufficient, but imports large quantities of yellow corn mainly to feed livestock. Local production of yellow corn, however, should rise 0.7% after a 4.5% decline last year.

Last year's season was battered by drought, disease and pests that affected both crops and livestock, as well as volatile prices for energy and raw materials.

More than three-quarters of the country faced moderate to exceptional drought conditions, according to the national water commission Conagua, which at the severe end of the scale means risk of fires, crop losses, and water shortages across reservoirs, streams and wells.

U.S. forecaster AccuWeather's chief agricultural meteorologist, Dale Mohler, has predicted that rain may come too late for a successful harvest for corn and other crops in Mexico, which could cause it to seek supplies from the U.S.

Mexico is a key buyer of U.S. yellow corn, purchasing nearly $6 billion-worth each year. However, the two countries are in a dispute over exports of genetically modified U.S. crops currently being settled at a panel under the North American trade agreement.

A resolution is expected by the end of this year.

Sinaloa and Jalisco states, which together grow almost two-fifths of Mexico's corn, "have been greatly affected by the drought," Mohler said.

Sinaloa, which borders the Pacific on the northwest coast, is Mexico's largest white corn producer, but the agriculture ministry forecast that it will produce 31% less grain this year, while the more southern Jalisco state should produce 0.7% less.



Reporting by Adriana Barrera; Writing by Sarah Morland; Editing by Leslie Adler

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