April 13, 2022
Will covid situation in Jilin impede spring ploughing of corn?
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There is a saying among farmers: Sow for the early harvest during the Qingming festival (around April 5), while planting during the Guyu festival (around April 20) reaps late crops. In other words, the period between Qingming and Guyu festivals is the best time to sow the seeds of spring crops. Farmers, whose income relies on the spring crops, will therefore watch these festivals closely. However, this year, things were different due to the covid lock down in the northeast province of Jilin.
Traditionally an agricultural province, Jilin Province is currently in a critical stage of covid lockdown, at a time that is critical to spring ploughing. It is a challenge for the province government to enforce the covid control measures and ensure spring ploughing, and hence crop production, at the same time. Market participants have been concerned about the planting progress in Jilin.
According to data from the National Statistics Bureau, Jilin Province's grain planting acreage accounts for 4.9% of China's total, of which corn accounts for 10.4% of the country's total production. Corn is the largest crop output of Jilin, accounting for about 70% of the province's total planting area. Corn fields are mainly found in the cities of Changchun, Siping, Songyuan, Jilin and Baicheng, out of which 37% are in Changchun and Jilin cities, whose covid situation remain severe.
During this time of previous years, it was the busiest time for the farming industry in Jilin. After buying the seeds, farmers have to dry and disinfect them while preparing for the seedbeds. However, affected by the lockdown measures, some farmers in Jilin Province, especially Changchun City and Jilin City, have problems purchasing agricultural materials. Some agricultural merchants were closed and accepted only online orders. After receiving orders, deliveries will be delayed as sellers have to wait for lockdown measures to be lifted to deliver the orders to the village.
Jilin government has implemented several measures to help with the spring ploughing. Recently, the Jilin Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs successively issued the "Notice on doing a good job in spring ploughing and supply of crop seeds in response to the current covid epidemic" and the "Work plan to help farmers to return to Changchun and Jilin for spring ploughing". In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs also dispatched a team to guide the spring ploughing work.
Some netizens reported online that some control measure enforcers stopped farmers from breaking the rules and leaving their houses to prepare for the spring ploughing. However, these may be individual cases. According to data released by the Jilin Province Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, as of April 3, 91% of the province's farmers have received the seeds for spring ploughing, and 74% of them have received the fertilizers. The department claims that the overall progress was faster than the same period of the previous years. Meanwhile, according to Jilin city official data, as of April 4, 37,150 people are expected to return from cities to the rural areas for the spring ploughing, out of which 19,840 people or 53% have reached home. If the data is accurate, spring ploughing will commence smoothly starting Qingming festival on April 5.
Recently, the covid situation in Jilin has improved, except for the cities of Changchun and Jilin. Traditionally, spring ploughing starts during middle to late April. If most farmers have received the seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural materials, there is still a week left for the farmers to get ready, rather ample time indeed. So long as the climate turns warm as per normal, corn planting in Jilin should proceed smoothly.
However, even with the harvest bountiful, corn prices are expected to increase this year as the costs of chemical fertilizers have surged sharply.
By David LIN
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