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Commodity Intelligence Report
January 27, 2006

China: 2006/07 Winter Wheat Situation

Planting and emergence - September/November 2005
Winter wheat accounts for more than 90 percent of China’s total wheat output. The 2006/07 winter wheat crop was planted in September/October 2005 and will be harvested in May/June 2006. Widespread heavy rain from mid-August through the first week of October covered most winter wheat areas of the North China Plain (NCP), where more than 70 percent of the crop is grown. The rain interrupted the harvest of summer crops (such as corn and cotton) and delayed the start of winter wheat planting by 1 to 2 weeks, but fair weather in late October allowed planting to proceed quickly. Temperatures were seasonable and soil moisture was favorable for crop germination and establishment. Local sources report that winter wheat planting was finished by the end of October, close to the normal crop calendar date. 

Rainfall was near normal in November, and temperatures were generally mild. Satellite imagery and NDVI vegetation indices (SPOT-NDVI) showed fair to good crop emergence, particularly in Hebei and Shandong provinces. The imagery also showed high water levels in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and soils on the NCP, which should help support the crops through the typically dry winter and early spring. 

Rainfall Graphs - Yellow River Basin - Henan/Anhui/Jiangsu

Soil Moisture Graphs - Percent - Surface Moisture

NDVI Map and Graphs

Satellite Images 

Winter conditions - December 2005
Winter wheat in Hebei, Henan and Shandong began to harden in early December as average temperatures dropped below 5 °C. In mid December, temperatures turned sharply colder (3 to 5 °C. below normal) across the entire NCP, bringing the growing season to an abrupt halt. In southern wheat areas, the sudden cold snap caused the crop to go dormant 1 to 2 weeks ahead of schedule. Light snow in parts of eastern Hebei, Tianjin, Shanxi, and northern Shandong offered some protection from the cold, but most of the wheat crop was entirely snow-free during the month. Despite the cold temperatures and lack of snow cover, local reports stated that the crop was in good condition and had not suffered any significant frost damage. 

Current conditions - January 2006 
In early January, a large storm dumped moderate to heavy snow in Shanxi, Shaanxi, western Hebei, and the mountains of Shandong. Temperatures have been relatively mild this month, with minimum temperatures ranging from 0 to -5 °C. Another storm system swept across the NCP after January 20 and brought significant snow to Henan, light flurries to Hebei and Shandong, and widespread rain showers to central China. The current lack of snow cover in the Yellow River basin in not unusual, but it could become a problem if extremely cold weather moves into the region. 

Temperature Graphs

Temperature Maps

Precipitation and Soil Moisture Maps

Snow Cover Map and Image

Precipitation Graphs

Satellite Image - Henan Province

Area Estimates for 2006/07
According to China's Ministry of Agriculture, winter wheat area for 2006/07 increased slightly over last year to 21.47 million hectares. The preliminary area estimate from the National Bureau of Statistics was somewhat lower at 21.1 million hectares, about the same as last year. The Chinese government continues to encourage farmers to expand grain production by offering subsides and tax incentives, among other policies. Winter rapeseed (which competes with winter wheat in the southern plains) receives no such subsidies and planted area was expected to drop in 2006/07. 

The first USDA estimate of China ’s 2006/07 wheat area and production will be announced in May 2006. 


China Wheat Area, Production and Yield Graphs

PECAD's Crop Explorer site (close this window and navigate to Crop Explorer).

For more information contact Paulette Sandene| | (202) 690-0133

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