March 31, 2011 / 3:07 AM / 6 years ago

China reports wider outbreak of wheat diseases

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's wheat crop is suffering from a serious outbreak of disease and the spread of pests this year due to the dry spring, the ministry of agriculture said.

Areas suffering crop damage from pests increased by as much as 110 percent, with the density of pests four times greater than last year in parts in the north, the country's bread basket, said the ministry.

Besides pests, outbreaks of diseases are also widespread, strip rust hit about 40 million mu 2.67 million hectare) of wheat, with epidemics in the southwest and northwest areas, while blight affected 65 million mu of wheat in the central wheat areas, it said. The diseases could reduce yields.

The ministry aims to control losses from the outbreaks to less than five percent. Earlier, the wheat crop in China, the world's largest consumer, has been hit by drought, although irrigation has helped improve soil moisture.

Brief cold weather in coming days was forecast to bring rainfall in most wheat areas in the north.

Reporting by Niu Shuping; Editing by Ken Wills

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