BEIJING (Reuters) – China's weather bureau said on Friday that heavy rain last month caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon damaged rice & cotton crops in major growing areas in the south & that conditions would continue poor this month.
Rain had been more than 50 percent heavier than in normal years, flooding paddy fields & hurting early-season rice at a key growing stage. It had damaged the crop in provinces including Hunan & Jiangxi, the country's largest & second-largest rice area, the bureau said
"Some early-season rice was flowering when hit by heavy rains & the damage was very serious," said Zhang Zhuqiang, a director with the China Meteorological Administration, at a news conference.
The bureau had earlier expected El Nino conditions this year to cause heavy rainfall in the south & create drought-like conditions in the north, yet said that unlike in 1997-98, the intensity of the phenomenon would be moderate.
Rain would continue in most areas south of the Yangtze River this month, while lower-than-normal temperatures were forecast in northeastern corn & soy areas, which was not favourable for the crops, bureau officials told the news conference.
China's harvest of early-season rice, which was 34 million tonnes in 2014, accounted for approximately 16 percent of the country's total rice output.
China is the world's top rice consumer & producer.
(Reporting by Niu Shuping; Editing by Alan Raybould)