Monday, December 5, 2011

Huge Grain Crop

China's National Bureau of Statistics has announced preliminary estimates of this year's huge grain crop. The Bureau says this year's grain production set a new record of 571.2 million metric tons (mmt). The grain output increased by 24.7 mmt, or 4.5%. The Ministry of Agriculture's chief economist brags that this is the eighth consecutive increase in grain production. This hasn't happened in at least 50 years.

The three major cereal grains totaled 510 mmt:

Rice 200.78 mmt, up 5.03 mmt, 2.6%
Wheat production was 117.92 mmt, up 2.74 mmt, 2.4%
Corn 191.75 mmt, up 14.5 mmt, 8.2%. 

There was no mention of soybean production which plummeted this year as farmers shifted to corn and rice.

Grain production is becoming more regionally concentrated. The 13 major grain-producing provinces account for three-fourths of output, but they accounted for 90% of the increase in production this year. Two provinces produced more than 50 mmt: Heilongjiang (55.71 mmt) and Henan (55.43 mmt).
The increases in the northeast were: 
Heilongjiang increased 5.58 mmt or 11.1%, 
Jilin 3.29 mmt, 11.6%, 
Liaoning 2.7 mmt, 15.3%, 
Inner Mongolia 2.29 mmt, 10.6%

Due to weather effects, Guizhou's output fell 2.35 mmt (-21.2%), and Chongqing's fell 2.9 mmt (-2.5%). Summer grain (winter wheat) decreased in Gansu, Ningxia, Xinjiang; early rice fell in Anhui, Hubei, Guangxi; fall-season grain production fell in Guizhou by 2.79 mmt (-29.3%), and in Chongqing by 300,000 mt (-3%), and Shanghai's production decreased.

The National Bureau of Statistics credits three factors for the increase: policy support, improved science and technology, and a shift in planting to high-yielding crops like corn and rice. The four subsidies for farmers totaled 140 billion yuan (up17%) and "awards" to grain and oilseed producing counties totaled 22.5 billion yuan (up 21.6%). Minimum prices for rice and wheat were raised. These measures mobilized the "enthusiasm" of local governments to implement policies, build infrastructure and disseminate technologies.

Most of the increase in production was due to increased yields. Grain yield increased 3.9%, contributing 21.27 mmt,or 85.8%, of the increase. Science and technology played a important role. Key technology measures: improved varieties, soil fertility testing, water-saving irrigation, pest control, corn plastic mulch, new techniques, mechanization. Improved varieties were planted on 95% of area, contributing 35% of increase in grain. According to MOA statistics, the 2011 wheat campaign was carried out on 13.3 million ha; corn plastic mulching on 6 mil ha, up 400,000 ha; specialized pest control on 44 mil ha, up 9.6 mil ha. Drip irrigation for corn increased.

Grain area sown increased to 110.57 mil ha, up 0.6%. Of that summer grain area 27.56 mil ha, up 116,000 ha, early rice down 45,000 ha, fall grain increased 625,000 ha. Increased area accounted for 3.46 mil ha of increase. Some area switched from low-yielding crops like soybeans to high-yielding crops like corn and rice. Corn was planted on 33.43 mil ha, an increase of 930,000 ha (up 2.9%); rice area reached 30 mil ha, up 123,000 ha (up .4%); wheat area was 24.19 mil ha (down .3%), of that winter wheat area was 22.6 mil ha (up 78,000 ha). Structural adjustment contributed 4 mmt or more.

The report says weather was generally favorable. Droughts came at a time when crops were not especially vulnerable. Each locality took measures to avert serious effects of droughts and flooding.

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