Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Big Grain Harvest Expected, Livestock Prices Falling

China is expected to have a big grain harvest exceeding 600 million metric tons -- similar to last year's output -- its chief agricultural statistician said in an online report. Hog and poultry supplies are up less than 1 percent this year, but livestock prices are down.

The report by the head of the rural survey division was one of a series on the National Bureau of Statistics web site featuring good news about various sectors of the Chinese economy for the first three quarters of 2017. Agricultural value added over the first three quarters was up 3.8 percent from last year, 0.2 percentage points faster than last year.

This summer's wheat output of 127.35 mmt was up 0.9 percent from 2016. The 27.4 mil. ha. planted in wheat was down 1 percent this year, so the increase in production reflects a 1.9-percent improvement in yield to 5505 kg/ha. Weather was relatively good this year, so there were fewer substandard wheat kernels, less disease, less mold, and fewer sprouted kernels than last year. The Ministry of Agriculture reports that the composition of wheat output has improved in quality this year. High- and low-gluten varieties of wheat comprised 27.5 percent of this summer's wheat crop, the Ministry said, up 2.8 percentage points from the previous year.

This summer's early rice crop was estimated at 31.75 mmt, down 3.2 percent from 2016. The decline reflected mainly a 2.8-percent decline in area planted, to 5.46 mil. ha. The statistician attributed the decline in early rice planting to the poor quality of this type of rice, its low profitability, and high labor requirements. The early rice yield of 5805 kg/ha was down 0.4 percent, due to poor weather and floods.

The fall grain crop now being harvested is expected to be good, due to favorable weather, plenty of sunshine, good rainfall, and no widespread droughts or floods. The statistics bureau expects output to be close to last year's production. Total grain output for the year is expected to exceed 600 mmt again.

Pork output during the first three quarters of 2017 was 37.17 mmt. The increase in pork output over last year was just 0.7 percent, but the statistics bureau described this as a rapid recovery. The number of hogs slaughtered was up 0.6 percent. The report doesn't mention that swine inventory at the end of the third quarter was down 0.8 percent from a year ago--a number buried in the third quarter economic report--which may restrain pork growth in the fourth quarter. The bureau reported that China's swine herd is shifting from southeastern provinces to corn-growing northern provinces as a result of the campaign to close hog farms in areas vulnerable to water pollution.

Poultry meat output during the first three quarters of 2017 was 13.23 mmt, up 0.5 percent from the same period last year. Egg output was 21.69 percent, down 0.7 percent.

Beef output during the first three quarters of 2017 was up 1.1 percent from last year, and production of sheep meat was up 1.8 percent.

With abundant market supplies of agricultural products, farm prices were down 4.5 percent overall during the first three quarters of 2017. Producer price surveys show that prices fell 2.2 percent during the first quarter, 6.4 percent during the second quarter, and 3.2 percent during the third quarter, the statistics bureau said. The decline reflected mainly falling livestock prices. Hog prices were down 14.5 percent, egg prices were down 11.8 percent, poultry prices were down 5.5 percent, corn prices were down 5.5 percent, and vegetables were down 5.3 percent. Forestry product prices were up 8.2 percent, and fish prices were up 5.5 percent.

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