CHINESE state officials are warning the country could be on the cusp of its 'worst winter crop in history' following heavy flooding during planting late last year.
The admissions has raised eyebrows among grains industry analysts as it goes against China's general official estimates, which international experts generally regard as erring firmly on the high side.
"We don't usually see China and come out and say it has production problems or that its stocks are low, even when their buying patterns suggest that is the case so to see them come out and say this is unusual," said Thomas Elder Markets analyst Andrew Whitelaw.
"The timing is definitely interesting for a big importer of grain given the world is experiencing a steep run up in prices due to the conflict in Ukraine."
Earlier in the month Reuters reported Chinese agriculture department officials were warning of the 'worst season in history'.
A survey of Chinese farmers found a 20 per cent reduction in better quality winter wheat crops, mainly due to heavy rain at sowing.
The Chinese government has reacted by announcing a $US253 million ($A352 million) package to bolster prospects for the upcoming crop.
Part of the money will be used to stabilise output of winter wheat in five main production regions, including Hebei and Shandong provinces, where planting of the grain was delayed due to excessive moisture, the Chinese ministry of finance said in a statement on its website.
However, it did not go into what means would be used to boost production.
China has made headlines in agricultural circles in recent years with its ambitious plans for grain self-sufficiency as part of the government's five year plan.
However, while Chinese wheat importers may be faced with the prospect of soaring global prices they do have an avenue for supplies unavailable to many other buyers.
While much of the world has implemented sanctions against Russia and access to Russian grain out of the Black Sea is difficult for those who would still be willing to buy Russian wheat, China recently signed a deal to allow imports of Russian wheat.
The trade between the two countries has been limited due to Chinese concerns over bunt in Russian wheat.
This option may be something for the medium and long term, rather than for short term needs.
While Russian imports are now allowed it is unlikely the supply chain could ramp up to move big volumes of wheat from Russia to China immediately.
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