China's weather woes wreak havoc on agriculture

The temperature drop is causing some serious worries about fruit and vegetable crops.

China's weather woes wreak havoc on agriculture
Source: Pexels/Erik Scheel

The backstory: Last year, China, one of the world’s top global suppliers of fruits and vegetables, suffered an over 70-day heat wave in June that caused widespread damage. The Yangtze river basin battled forest fires, lakes and reservoirs dried up and crops were destroyed. The country recorded its highest temperatures ever in August.  

More recently: Now, the country has continued getting hit hard with extreme weather events this year, causing all sorts of chaos and disruption. We're talking droughts and sandstorms. It all started back in early February when officials warned that more extreme weather was on the way And, they weren’t wrong. In March, over a dozen major Chinese cities hit record-high temperatures. Shahe took the cake with a sweltering 31.8 degrees Celsius (89 degrees Fahrenheit).

The development: On the other temperature extreme, though, farmers and investors in northern China are feeling the chill from a recent cold front. The temperature drop is causing some serious worries about fruit and vegetable crops (especially since China produces about a third of the global supply), causing investors to bet on production losses. In fact, apple futures on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange have surged 8% in under two weeks. The agriculture ministry is warning about potential harm to apple trees in main producing regions like Shaanxi, Shanxi and Xinjiang, as well as other fruits like grapes, citrus and pears.

Key comments:

“Production in Shanxi and Shaanxi has indeed been affected, but apple futures are mainly under the influence of speculative trading,” said Wang Xiaoyang, a senior analyst with Sinolink Futures.

"At present, global warming is accelerating ... and under the impact of climate change, the climate system is becoming increasingly unstable," said Song Shanyun, a spokesman from the China Meteorological Administration, at a briefing in February.

"We are witnessing a rapidly warming earth with all the high temperatures recorded today," said China's official weather forecaster on the Weibo social media platform last month.