Summer grain output in 2002 totalled 98.75m tones, 2.9 per cent less than in 2001, Reuters reported. The decline was caused by drought in the early part of the year, followed by heavy rain in May. The summer harvest contributes 20 to 25 per cent of China's total annual output and the fall could lead to a fourth year of decline in grain production. However, the US Department of Agriculture has forecast that China will have a bumper harvest of maize, its second largest grain crop, as there have been no serious problems in the principal growing regions in the northeast. The good weather in the northeast is also benefiting soybeans and China is expected to harvest 16.3m tonnes this year, up from 15.4m tonnes in 2001. The National Grains and Oils Information Centre also forecast that imports of soybeans in the 2001/02 period would reach 10m tonnes, rising to 12m tonnes in 2002/03.
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