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Cold, sleet wipe out orange crop for some farmers in Jiangxi

By Feng Zongwei and Shi Xiaofeng in Huichang county ( Updated: 2016-01-28 16:35

The cold snap that swept across the nation caught many orchards in the middle of the orange harvest in one of China's major fruit production areas, and more than 50 farmers faced the possibility of total crop failure, officials said.

Temperatures fell to historical lows in a number of provinces in South China over the weekend, including Huichang county, Jiangxi province, where more than 1 million kilograms of oranges and grapefruit were still in the trees when the cold and sleet struck.

Huichang county, dubbed China's "home of oranges and grapefruits" by the China Fruit Marketing Association, has a yearly production capacity of more than 5 million kg of oranges and grapefruit.

"It was a sleet we haven't seen in decades. And it made the harvesting and sales of oranges more difficult than ever," said Guo Wenfeng, a 54-year-old orange farmer in Nanzhai village of Zhulang township.

Many fruit dealers are concerned about the quality of the fruit, and have been unwilling to honor the contracts they signed with farmers, Guo said.

Huang Jie, deputy head of the county government, said officials have been contacting online fruit sellers and dealers on behalf of the farmers, but the lingering rainfall and sleet have affected quality and made sales difficult.

However, two online fruit dealers that learned of the stagnating orange sales in Huichang placed orders for about 250,000 kilograms of oranges.

E-commerce platforms also came to the rescue, purchasing 150,000 kg of oranges from the farmers. Additional orders are pending for another 350,000 kg.

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