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China: Bumper autumn grain harvest expected despite drought

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BEIJING, Aug 31, 2009 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- A good harvest of China's autumn grain is expected, despite the drought in the northern and southern regions, said Chen Mengshan, spokesman of China's Ministry of Agriculture.

"As long as there are no more natural disasters in the next month, there will be a bumper harvest of autumn grain nationwide," said Chen, "partly because the autumn grain has grown well in the early phase, providing the basis for a good harvest."

Chen added that those grain-growing regions that have not suffered drought will yield a better than expected harvest. Spring corn and rice in the southwestern region, summer corn in the Yellow River and Huaihe River regions, early and late rice in the Yangtze River Delta, and the grain in the northwestern region are all growing well.

A severe drought has affected north China since late July as a result of insufficient rainfall and continued high temperatures, while heavy rains and typhoons have battered some other parts of the country.A severe drought has affected north China since late July as a result of insufficient rainfall and continued high temperatures, while heavy rains and typhoons have battered some other parts of the country.

Since the late July, China's major grain production regions like the northern Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia and Shanxi have seen less precipitation than the past years, and from August the central Hunan and Hubei provinces also suffered from drought.

Until August 30, there were 71.81 million mu (4.787 million hectares) of agriculture crops in the northern five provinces affected by the drought, according to statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Local governments were urged to take measures to combat droughts and floods in major grain production bases and to step up monitoring of freak weather.