Chinese drought hits wheat yields

Monday 14th Feb 2011 by theWeather Club

China may now passed Japan to become the world’s second biggest economy, but there are plenty of calls on the country’s growing economic resources. The country’s main wheat growing regions have been suffering a prolonged drought, which is pushing up global wheat prices and taxing local ingenuity. Recent snowfalls in some areas raised hope that the drought would end, but this has failed to occur. The country is the world’s largest grain consumer, and the need to replace the wheat not available locally has pushed global prices of the commodity to two-year highs, according to China’s drought relief agency.

The recent snow has actually helped, but not nearly enough. "China still faces an arduous task of fighting drought," Chen Lei, deputy director at the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters stated. "Enhanced efforts of irrigation, recent rain and snowfalls helped prevent the drought spreading in some winter wheat growing areas." The Chinese government now intends to spend 12.9 billion yuan ($2 billion) to fight the drought and boost grain production, according to China Central Television, but it is questionable whether it will be enough.

Even the hardest work can only stretch a resource so far and the bottom line is that there has just not been enough rain, even with the controversial cloud seeding experiments the country has been carrying out to try and increase rainfall. There is also an issue of timing. The dry spell will continue to affect crops, as the weather is getting warmer, and winter wheat needs large amounts of water when turning green, a vital step on the roads to maturation. If that water fails to arrive, whether by natural or man made methods, crop yields will be drastically reduced. So it seem that as China’s economic growth continues apace, there are issues already lining up to make use of that new found wealth.