Shandong increases grain harvest despite bad autumn floods

By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan| (China Daily)| Updated : 2022-08-05

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Workers load grain at a storage facility in Liaocheng, Shandong province, in June. ZHANG ZHENXIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

Shandong province is growing in both total planting area and output of summer grain this year thanks to easy access to agricultural technologies and help from better insurance for when farmers face natural disasters, according to the provincial department of agriculture and rural affairs.

The province, one of the major production bases of summer grain in China, witnessed the output of wheat, a staple crop, reach 26.41 million metric tons, up 0.2 percent year-on-year, it said.

The total planting area of summer grain in the province reached 4 million hectares, 9,200 hectares more than last year.

"We conquered bad influences caused by late planting, plant diseases and pests that appeared earlier than previous years, and droughts in the late growth phase of wheat," Chi Fang, director of the planting management office of the department, said on Tuesday.

Due to serious floods last autumn, nearly 70 percent of wheat in Shandong was planted late.

"Usually winter wheat is planted in October in Shandong, but floods delayed the planting, with some areas being put off to early December, affecting the crop's growth," said Chi.

But the relatively high temperature in winter was good for wheat to grow. In addition, national and local governments conducted timely and effective measures at the crucial growing stages of wheat, he said.

For example, in February when wheat seedlings started to turn green, agricultural officials and technicians instructed farmers on growing weak seedlings into strong ones.

In May, work on spraying pesticides was carried out to protect the wheat against some diseases that frequently occur.

Zhao Ruxue, a farmer in Wenshang county, earned a decent income from the farmland he manages.

This year, Zhao, who began managing the farmland in 2013, handled 11,300 hectares on which he mainly grows wheat and corn.

"The total output is higher than last year, the grain quality is better, and the price of grain is higher too, making this year the best year for me in the last 10 years," said Zhao.

What farmers fear most are natural disasters such as flooding and drought, said Zhao.

"Years ago, I made little money from growing grains because of natural disasters and lack of knowledge of effective measures to grow grain when we encounter bad weather," he said, adding things got better when farmers started to receive subsidies in 2018 to buy insurance against natural disasters.

Farmer Li Guangxin in Linyi county of the province's Dezhou city said facilities built in villages relieve him from the pressures caused by natural disasters.

"Our town government has been building roads, drilling wells and dredging water channels in our villages," he said.

One thing that bothers Li now is there is not enough space to dry and store grain, especially when farmers harvest grain on rainy days.