China drought likely to last, threatening winter wheat

BEIJING Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:20am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's ongoing drought in northern wheat areas is likely to continue, threatening the winter crop, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Thursday.

The drought worsened in some wheat areas that haven't seen precipitation recently despite a slight decrease in the overall size of the drought-hit region as of Wednesday, said the ministry in a statement published on its web site.

For areas that have received precipitation or irrigation recently, the drought may reappear with rising temperature, as wheat needs increasing volume of water when temperature increases, it said.

Meanwhile, the drought is likely to further develop in northern wheat areas in the second half of this month as waterfalls will be less than normal years while the temperature will be higher according to weather forecast, the ministry added.

The price rise in wheat futures traded in China eased after snowfalls in north China helped to ease the drought somewhat.

China's most traded wheat futures contract, Zhengzhou wheat for September delivery, fell 0.96 percent to 2,990 yuan per tonne on Thursday.

Below is a table showing the changes in drought-hit areas and severely affected areas in eight major wheat producing provinces.

(Reporting by Zheng Xiaolu and Tom Miles; Editing by Ken Wills)

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