East China's Shandong Province has been in the grip of a drought for more than a month, affecting 1.6 million hectares of farmland.
According to the provincial observatory, the province's total rainfall from September 1 to October 15 was 16 millimeters, down by more than 200 millimeters on the same period last year.
High temperatures during the period exacerbated the effects of the drought. The average daily temperature in the province since the beginning of October is 22 degrees Celsius, about three degrees higher than the average temperature for the same period in the last 30 years, according to the provincial observatory.
So far, Shandong Province has only been able to plant about two million hectares of winter wheat, or 60 percent of the province's planned acreage.
According to the provincial observatory, there will be no rain in the next 10 days. Experts warn that if winter wheat is not planted soon, grain output will be seriously affected next year.
Shandong's annual grain output stands at around 40 million tons, or one-tenth of the national total.
(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2006)