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China: Cropping Patterns
Country Study > Chapter 6 > Agriculture > Operational Methods and Inputs > Cropping Patterns


All of these elements of modern agriculture are used in the context of the traditional intensive cropping patterns. To maximize year-round use of the land, two or more crops are planted each year where possible. Rice, wheat, cotton, vegetable, and other crop seedlings are sometimes raised in special seedbeds and then transplanted to fields. Transplanting shortens the time required for a crop to mature, which allows farmers the opportunity to squeeze in an additional crop each growing season. Another method to make optimum use of scarce land is to plant seedlings in a mature stand of another crop. For example, when planting winter wheat in October, farmers in the north leave spaces among the rows so that cotton seedlings can be planted or transplanted in April and May. Without intercropping, farmers could raise only one crop a year. Mechanization supports this intensive cropping pattern. Despite a huge rural labor force, labor shortages occur each season when farmers are required to harvest one crop and plant another in its place, all within the space of a few weeks. In the 1980s farmers invested in harvesting and planting machinery to overcome the shortage of labor. Seed breeders also supported intensive cropping patterns by selecting and breeding varieties that had shorter growing seasons.

Data as of July 1987

Last Updated: July 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for China was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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