Xinjiang farmers scramble to protect crops amid heat waves
Published: Jul 26, 2022 09:57 PM
A harvester picks cotton in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region. Photo: VCG

A harvester picks cotton in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region. Photo: VCG

As abnormal heat waves continue sweeping across Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region during a critical growing season, farmers and local governments are taking swift actions to protect cotton and other crops, mostly by increasing irrigation, industry sources told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The impact of the hot weather varies among regions and may reduce the size of the harvest in some areas. But most local people interviewed by the Global Times said that the impact of the hot weather on cotton growing has been limited so far. 

A deputy manager surnamed Zhang at a fabrics company in Yuli county of Xinjiang's Bazhou said that although Yuli had received several high temperature alerts, the heat didn't last too long and the region was also safe from natural disasters like mudslides so far.

High temperatures were accelerating glacial melting in mountainous areas, and this was leading to natural disasters such as flash floods, mudslides and landslides in many places, according to China Media Group (CMG).

"The cotton bolls are growing very well now. So far, the hot weather didn't exert any large impact on the plants," Zhang said. 

Liu Haifeng, CEO of Urumqi-based China Colored-Cotton Group, said that the heat would be "no problem" if proper measures were taken.

Local farmers said that more frequent irrigation would keep the cotton bolls intact. Zhang, for example, said that local growers have started to irrigate their fields once every seven days, compared with once every 10 days in the past. 

Local officials are also lending support. According to a report on, the agricultural and rural bureau of Xinjiang's Manas region dispatched technicians to guide farmers on strengthening irrigation/fertilizer management of their cotton plants.  

However, some said that water has become a problem after the irrigation frequency increased. 

A manager of a textile company in Aksu told the Global Times that he heard from a cotton field owner in Awati that farmers used to irrigate the fields once a week at this time of year, while this year they need to water the crops at least once every three days, and because of increasing irrigation frequency, water supplies are getting very tight. 

"A breakeven point could be reached if one mu (0.067 hectares) of cotton fields could yield 400 kilograms of cotton. But this year it's very hard to reach that yield due to the heat, and I guess local governments may offer subsidies (to cotton farmers)," the manager said. 

Liu noted that it's hard to estimate this year's cotton yield and quality so far, but results should emerge late next month.  

Since Saturday, readings in most of Xinjiang's plateau areas have exceeded 35 C, with certain regions like Turpan going over 45 C, according to a CMG report. Those are the highest temperatures so far this summer, and the heat is expected to last about 10 days, the report noted.