On August 27, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released its estimate of early-season rice production. This is the rice crop planted in the early spring (in southern provinces) and harvested in summer. After harvest the fields can be planted with another rice crop or other crops to be harvested in the fall.
This year's early rice harvest was affected by the severe drought in southwestern provinces, low temperatures in early spring, and flooding this summer.
NBS estimates the early rice crop at 31.32 million metric tons, down 2.04 mmt from last year. That's a decrease of 6.1%. Given all the problems listed above, this is a relatively modest decrease.
NBS says 1.6-mmt of the decrease was due to lower yields. Reduced planted area accounted for the other 400,000-mt of the decrease.
The early rice yield was down 4.9% from last year. The yield averaged 5,405 kg/ha, down 276.8 kg from last year. In Jiangxi the yield was down 11.1%, in Zhejiang it was down 8.7%, and in Hubei it was down 4.5%.
Early rice planted area was down 1.3%. National early rice area was estimated at 5,794,000 ha, down 76,100 ha from last year. The severe impacts of drought are reflected in Yunnan's 34% decrease in early rice area. There were declines of 24,000 ha in Guangxi (-2.4%) and 20,100 ha (-1.5%) in Hunan.
The three leading provinces accounted for three-fourths of the decline in production. The leading provinces: Hunan down 450,000 mt (-5.6%); Jiangxi down 880,000 mt (-11.1%); Guangxi down 220,000 mt (-3.9%).
In a promising new development the NBS report contains an addendum explaining the general methodology for obtaining estimates. They are obtained from sample surveys conducted on 17,000 plots in 2000 villages chosen from 8 provinces that account for over 96% of production. The surveys are supplemented by statistics from minor producing areas.