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Commodity Intelligence Report
June 26, 2006

Recent Rain Improves Crop Conditions in Northeast China

Widespread rainfall since June 1 has essentially ended a serious drought that covered a large section of Northeast China (Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning) this spring.  Seasonal rainfall (March 1 – June 20) is now above normal and soil moisture levels are very favorable for heading spring wheat and vegetative corn, soybeans, and rice.  There are still some pockets of minor drought in eastern Inner Mongolia and western Jilin and Liaoning but the deficit has greatly decreased. 

Soil Moisture


Additional rainfall after June 20 further increased moisture supplies for 2006/07 summer crops (including spring wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice) in the Northeast.  The Chinese Meteorological Bureau's forecast for the week of June 26 through July 2 calls for frequent showers and occasional thunderstorms with heavy rain, strong wind and hail. Now that Northeast China has entered its summer rainfall season, flooding and waterlogging become a greater threat to summer crops than drought.

Cool and Dry for Planting
According to local authorities, planting and emergence of summer crops in Northeast China was delayed by 7 to 10 days in many areas due to unusually cool weather in mid-April, which appeared just after the spring wheat crop was planted and as corn/soybean planting was about to commence.  Planting was also delayed by periods of dry weather in March and April, particularly in western Heilongjiang and Jilin.  On April 20 the Chinese press reported that the drought in Heilongjiang affected more than 4 million hectares of farmland, more than one-third of its total cropland. 

By the end of May, crop conditions in the Northeast were mixed.  Corn emergence and seedling growth in central Jilin and Liaoning was progressing well in response to rising temperatures and adequate soil moisture.  However, corn and soybean planting and emergence had been hindered by drought in Inner Mongolia and the west.

Northeast China map

Current Conditions by Province
Heilongjiang is China’s most important soybean province (more than 40 percent of total output) and a major producer of spring wheat (1st),  corn (5th), and japonica rice.  Seasonal rainfall in northeast Heilongjiang (Fujin) is above normal and similar to last year.  Soil moisture is abundant and drought has not been an issue this year.  Historically, soybeans have been the most important crop in this region, but corn area has been expanding rapidly due to higher profits.  In north and north-central Heilongjiang (Hailun), seasonal rainfall (March through May) was irregular but generally close to normal, and rain has fallen nearly every day this month.  Soil moisture is more than adequate for the spring wheat crop, which is now in the heading/filling stage, and the crop would probably benefit from warmer and drier weather at this stage.

Heilongjiang’s driest area was near Harbin in south-central Heilongjiang.  Cumulative rainfall from March 1 through May 31 was less than 50 percent of normal and the lowest since the droughts of 2001 and 2003.  Soil moisture was very low and planting/emergence was delayed by dryness.  However, abundant rainfall since June 10 has eliminated the drought near Harbin and crop damage is expected to be minimal.   In contrast, the drought of 2001 lasted for several more weeks and caused significant yield losses. 

Recent rainfall has also improved conditions in eastern Inner Mongolia.  In Tongliao (near the Liaoning/Jilin border) total rainfall in 2006 is now close to normal, although six weeks of dryness (mid-April through May) slowed the planting and germination of summer crops.  Soil moisture was low this spring but similar to other years and temperatures were seasonable to cool.  Despite reports of drought, the rainfall deficit was smaller than 2004.  Inner Mongolia ranks 2nd in spring wheat production and 7th and 8th in corn and soy production.

Jilin is China’s most important corn-producing province and the second-largest soybean producer.  Soil moisture in April was favorable for planting and higher than most years.  The biggest problem this year was low temperatures at planting.  Average temperatures were several degrees cooler than normal through mid-April, causing planting delays of 3 to 4 days for paddy rice and about 7 days for dryland crops.  In central Jilin (Changchun), near-normal rainfall and warmer temperatures favored crop emergence and growth in May, and conditions by mid-month were described as fair to good.  Several consecutive days of rain in mid-June has maintained abundant moisture supplies and the crops are reportedly growing well. 

Liaoning ranks 5th and 6th for soybean and corn production, respectively.  Rainfall was near to above normal in Shenyang but drier than normal in the west, where a rainfall deficit still exists (Jinzhou).  Temperatures were lower than normal in April but warm enough for timely planting and emergence.  In 2005, both Jilin and Liaoning suffered from excessive rainfall that caused planting delays, increased the occurrence of pests and diseases, and lowered crop quality

Current USDA area and production estimates for grains and other agricultural commodities are available on PECAD's Agricultural Production page or at PSD Online.

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

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