China's crop harvests brace for winter snap

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 January, 2013, 5:07am

The coldest winter in 28 years in China, the world's largest wheat producer, may hamper the developing winter crop, according to the official China National Grain and Oils Information Centre.

The country's south will be hit by a new cold front this week, with temperatures dropping to as low as minus 5 degrees Celsius on Friday and Saturday, the China Meteorological Administration said yesterday.

Guizhou and Hunan provinces may experience snowstorms.

Widespread snowfall and lower temperatures since January 2 have affected crops in southern growing regions and along the Huai River, the information centre said, without giving an estimate on crop damage.

Winter wheat usually accounted for about 90 per cent of the country's output, said Ma Wenfeng, a grains analyst at Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultant.

"So far, the general growing condition in the winter-wheat areas remains good and snowfalls are usually beneficial for wheat," Ma said. "But a drought coupled with low temperatures will hamper growth."

Two people died and 770,000 others have been affected by record-low temperatures and snow in Inner Mongolia, Xinhua said on Sunday, citing the local government. More than 260,000 people are in need of emergency aid and about 180,000 head of livestock have died, according to the report.

"Last year China, by and large, had a pretty good wheat harvest as we estimated output of 117 million tonnes," Ma said, adding that government data showed a record 120 million tonnes.

China would produce 120.6 million tonnes in the 2012-13 season, the US Department of Agriculture estimated last month.