* Santos, Paranagua can expect rain until Saturday
* Showers already disrupting loading of sugar
* Cane areas to stay mostly dry, helping harvesting
BRASILIA, Aug 2 (Reuters) - The two main ports exporting sugar in Brazil, whose docks are already flat out with long queues of ships, will face more delays in loading this week because of rain, forecaster Somar said on Monday.
Importers are flocking to Brazil for supplies of sugar following disappointing harvests in Asia last year and Moslem countries are trying to fill orders before business slows on Aug. 11 for the holy month of Ramadan.
Last week, shipping agency Williams said the queue of ships waiting to load sugar had grown to 123 from 113 a week earlier. Ships carrying sugar in bulk take up to a day and a half to fill their holds, but they cannot load in wet weather or cargo could be damaged.
“It’s now raining in Santos since (Sunday) and it should continue this way until next Saturday,” said Marco Antonio, a meteorologist at the private weather forecaster Somar, adding the same applied to the No. 2 sugar port further south, Paranagua.
Head of port operations at Paranagua, Luiz Teixeira da Silva, told Reuters the showers were disrupting loading.
“There are almost no (loading) operations except for containers. We are programming (other) ships for unloading which is still possible in the rain ... to alleviate the queue,” he said.
Antonio was optimistic the worst of the weather disruption would be over for the ports after this week.
“The good news is that next week the rain will stop and probably until the end of August (but) this week activity will be problematic,” he said.
Government trade data released on Monday showed the ports had shipped a record quantity of sugar in July at 2.9 million tonnes, beating by far the previous record of 2.55 million tonnes set in September last year.
Despite the queues, the two ports say their sugar terminals are adequate for Brazil’s sugar production, and say the delays result from the intense demand.
October sugar SBVO futures traded in New York have risen by about a fifth in the last month, and closed at 19.30 cents on Monday, gaining support from the loading bottleneck. Shipping agencies expect the queues to continue until the harvest begins to tail off around October.
The country’s cane harvest has enjoyed mostly dry weather enabling field work to make good progress. Cane crushing, sugar and ethanol production are well ahead of this time last year, though this harvest began earlier. See: [ID:nN02102855]
Somar’s Antonio said it would continue dry this week in the Center South cane areas which turns out 90 percent of the country’s cane, and that some late afternoon showers expected there would not interrupt harvesting.
Reporting by Peter Murphy; Editing by David Gregorio