Rain, Snow in Western China Damage Rapeseed, Cotton Crops, Threaten Output

China’s rapeseed and cotton crops have been damaged by heavy rain and snow, threatening to reduce output in the world’s largest consumer of both commodities.

Rapeseed production this year may fall to less than 10 million metric tons to the lowest level since 2007, Li Qiang, managing director at Shanghai JC Intelligence Co., said today in an interview. Output will probably be the lowest since 2007, when China produced 8.6 million tons, he added. Output was 11 million tons last year, he said.

Heavy snow in western Gansu province this week destroyed local crops and killed livestock, Chinanews.com said today, citing the local government. Snowfalls also hurt cotton crops in Xinjiang province and caused replanting in the biggest producing state, the China Cotton Association said this week.

“We are off to a pretty bad start to the spring,” Mao Shuchun, cotton researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said in a telephone interview from central Henan province today.

The snowstorm in Gansu province was the latest in a string of weather events that have hurt crops this year, driving up prices of corn, sugar, cotton and vegetables. Torrential rain in 10 provinces in southern China will also cut rapeseed output, industry watcher cnyouzhi.com said this week.

‘Not Optimistic’

The outlook for cotton planting in China this year is “not optimistic” after farmers delayed sowing because of adverse weather, Gao Fang, executive vice president of the China Cotton Association, said May 7.

China faces a cotton shortage of about 310,000 metric tons before new domestic supplies come onto the market after India halted exports and demand climbed, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission said on April 27.

Still, damage to cotton crops isn’t clear yet and there’s no estimate on how much production will decline, the Chinese Academy’s Mao said. China may struggle to repeat bumper harvests of recent years as adverse weather affects crops and planting, Fang Yan, deputy director of the Rural Economy Department at the National Development and Reform Commission, said May 8.

The worst drought in more than 50 years in the southwest of the country reduced sugar production, while persistent low temperatures in the north delayed spring planting of corn and soybeans.

To contact the Bloomberg News staff on this story: Feiwen Rong in Beijing at frong2@bloomberg.net

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