A harvester collects wheat in the fields of Zhuwangkong village in Weifang, Shandong province on May 31, 2022. (Photo by Wang Jilin/For chinadaily.com.cn)
By checking the moisture content of his wheat, Li Wenzhou knew the time was just right to start harvesting his crops last week.
Using a pair of combine harvesters, Li can get his 40 hectares of winter wheat in Qixian county, Henan province, harvested in less than two days.
"Harvesters can do everything from cutting and threshing to collecting the grain, helping us reduce grain loss," Li said. "We don"t need to do a series of laborious operations such as moving the crops and threshing the plants to get grain by beating the cut stalks, which also can lead to loss."
Li said the average wheat output per hectare this year is expected to be 9.75 metric tons.
The summer harvest of winter wheat is the first of the annual grain output effort in China.
Harvesters have been widely used across the country to keep grain loss to a minimum.
China has over 650,000 wheat combine harvesters that can be used this year, which basically meets the demand for the machinery required, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said recently.
Nearly 80 percent of winter wheat has been harvested across the country, official data showed on Sunday.
In Henan－a major wheat production area in China－5.66 million hectares of wheat had been harvested as of Wednesday, accounting for 99.5 percent of the total area of the crop in the province, data from the Henan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs showed.
The province had 62,000 combine harvesters working in fields on Wednesday.
In Shandong province, another wheat production area neighboring Henan, 2.34 million hectares of wheat had been harvested as of Sunday, accounting for 58.4 percent of the province"s total area, according to data from the Shandong Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. Over 99 percent of the area that has already been harvested was done so with machinery.
"I"m using domestically made harvesters this year, and they cut the crops clean. The grain loss rate has been reduced to below 2 percent," said Han Guode, who runs an agricultural cooperative in Zoucheng, a city in Jining, Shandong. "We can get an additional 25 tons of grain from the 306 hectares of wheat fields in the area than in previous years."
Drivers are trained for days before they start harvesting.
"If the crops are relatively dry, the wheels mustn"t rotate too fast, or some of the cut crops will be dropped in the field instead of being conveyed to the processing part of the harvester," said Qiu Teng, a driver in Zoucheng.
Agricultural authorities have cooperated with health, transportation and weather authorities to ensure a smooth harvest.
Emergency harvesting teams have been set up to harvest crops for farmers who can"t do the work because of epidemic controls.
In Henan, 1,460 fueling stations have special filling channels for combine harvesters offering a 3 percent discount.