Drought to Persist in China, U.S. Europe Wheat Areas

Friday, May 6, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Luzi Ann Javier
May 5, 2011

Drought conditions may persist in wheat-growing areas from China, the world’s largest grower and consumer, to the U.S. and Western Europe, hurting crops and lifting prices, British Weather Services said.

The La Nina event is likely to continue to block rain from moving into the wheat-growing regions in the U.S. and China through mid-May, while the North Atlantic Oscillation will curb significant rainfall in France, Germany and the U.K., preventing the replenishment of soil moisture, Jim Dale, a senior risk meteorologist at British Weather said.

Dry weather may curb grain output, further boosting world food prices that rose to near a record in April and adding to pressure on central banks from Beijing to Brasilia to increase interest rates. About 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since June by the “dangerous levels” of food prices, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said in February.

“A lot of things are going in the wrong direction, with areas that don’t usually get rains getting more rainfall, while those areas where you’d expect rains, having drought,” said Dale, who correctly predicted last month that drier conditions will persist in China through this month. “Prices are going to go higher rather than lower.”

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