Typhoon hurts China orange, cane, rice crops

China's top orange grower revealed "significant" damage to a 1.4m-tree plantation from Typhoon Rammasun, reckoned to be the worst storm to hit the south of the country in 41 years.

Asian Citrus Holdings said that Rammasun, which brought 130mph winds to southern China last week, had caused "widespread damage", with press agency Xinua reporting 33 deaths and $1.7bn of damage on the island province of Hainan alone.

World Weather said that the typhoon "moved through Hainan and south western Guangdong, China Friday into the weekend producing some very heavy rainfall and flooding", including to rice and cane areas.

"Rain totals over 15 inches occurred in the Luichow Peninsula of Guangdong and greater totals occurred in Hainan."

For Asian Citrus itself, the "impact of the typhoon in Guangxi, where our Hepu Plantation is located, is significant", the company said.

Citrus shares fell 6.4% to 12.73p in lunchtime deals in London, although the group said it would take "a period of time" to assess the exact financial impact of the damage.

Cursed by poor weather

Typhoon damage represents the latest in a series of weather setbacks at Hepu, which covers 31,000 square kilometres, with "unstable" conditions in 2012 blamed for an outbreak of citrus canker, a bacterial disease which causes leaves and fruit to drop prematurely.

Hepu's output fell 23% to 116,720 tonnes in the year to the end of June last year, with the direct impact of canker exacerbated by losses to a replanting programme.

This year, ill-timed frost has already added to the plantation's weather setbacks, prompting Asian Citrus last month to reveal that Hepu's production of summer oranges had fallen to 49,540 tonnes below the 57,367 tonnes a year before, and contracted volumes of 57,000 tonnes.

The group cut to 197,467 tonnes, from 218,600 tonnes, its estimate for production for the year to the end of last month.

Asian Citrus has planted 220,000 banana trees at Hepu, which has 1.2m orange trees, in an attempt to diversify its risk, and which are due for their first harvest in September.

Another typhoon

Typhoon Rammasun has also reportedly caused 94 deaths in the Philippines, and at least 11 in Vietnam, where it made landfall over the weekend.

In China, an estimated 600,000 people have been evacuated.

And the region is braced for further devastation with a second typhoon, Matmo, set to strike, on a slightly more northerly course.

"Typhoon Matmo will move toward Taiwan and south eastern China the next two days with landfall late Tuesday night and Wednesday in Taiwan and south eastern China Wednesday," World Weather said.

"Damage to rice and sugarcane is expected as the storm rolls into the region," with Taiwan to suffer the "greatest" losses.

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