Heavy Snows Might Hit Chinese Wheat Production

The Chinese government may have shot themselves in the foot with their cloud seeding efforts in northern China's wheat growing areas.

Warm and dry October weather hampered wheat planting and development on the North China Plain. Rainfall had been practically non-existent in October in leading wheat provinces Henan and Shandong and adjacent Anhui and Jiangsu, say Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

So the military were duly dispatched into the countryside armed with the usual array of silver iodide and heavy artillery.

The seeding, plus temperatures falling as low 29 F, brought an early covering of 'fake' snow to Beijing on November 1st. The snow was the earliest to hit the capital in 10 years, according to the Beijing Evening News.

Perhaps what the authorities hadn't reckoned with was that Mother Nature has seen fit for it to continue to snow more or less ever since.

The heaviest snow in 22 years hit Hebei last week, with falls as deep as 37 cm in some parts of the province. The snow has been accompanied by bitterly cold weather with temperatures of minus 15 to minus 17 degrees Celsius, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The drastic temperature drop will harm the province's 2.4 million hectares of wheat, said Zhang Wenzong, director of Hebei Agri-Meteorological Center.

The sudden switch from almost summer-like conditions to winter seems to have by-passed autumn completely. Whilst the snow will certainly ease the drought, it's early arrival along with sub-zero temperatures will badly affect further planting and potentially send newly planted wheat into premature winter dormancy.

They might be able to make it rain, but can they stop it snowing and freezing in the world's largest producer and consumer of wheat?