November 2, 2009 / 4:12 AM / 8 years ago

China seeds clouds in wheat-growing areas to ease drought

BEIJING (Reuters) - Many Chinese wheat-growing provinces in the north seeded clouds over the weekend to help end a persistent drought and encourage the growth of winter wheat.

In Shandong, one of the country’s major wheat-growing areas, jets and rockets were used to bring rain and ease the drought that had hit 800,000 hectares of farmland by the end of October, the China Meteorological Administration said.

Cloud seeding brought Anhui province as much as 40 mm of rain over the weekend, easing dryness since September, the bureau said in a report on its website (www.cma.gov.cn).

Seeding coupled with a sharp fall in temperatures also brought the winter’s first snow to the capital on Sunday.

Beijing Weather Modification Office used 186 doses of silver iodide since late Saturday, which brought additional snowfall of more than 16 million metric tons equivalent, said the official Xinhua news agency.

“We won’t miss any opportunity of artificially inducing precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought,” Xinhua cited weather official Zhang Qiang as saying.

Chinese farmers completed planting this year’s winter wheat at the end of last month. China has said it will try to persuade farmers to stabilize planting acreage. China harvested 2 percent more winter wheat or nearly 110 million metric tons this year.

While the moisture was good for winter wheat, sharp temperature falls can damage vegetable crops and kill young livestock, warned the Agriculture Ministry.

Reporting by Niu Shuping and Tom Miles; Editing by Chris Lewis

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