Southwest China

Boron deficiency puts crops at risk

Provinces in southwest China grow a range of crops that are essential for both domestic consumption and worldwide demand. Rice, China’s most important crop, is dominant and can yield two or three harvests per year. This area also includes about 85% of China’s total rapeseed planting area.

Sichuan province produces more rice and rapeseed than any other province in the country. Other principal cash crops are citrus fruit and natural silk. Sichuan's sugarcane crops also have an important place in national production. Cultivation is characterized by crop diversity, intensive land use, extensive terracing and irrigation, and special methods of soil culture, fertilization, composting, and crop rotation.

In Yunnan province, the region’s mild climate and high rainfall support a wide variety of crops. However, the region is mountainous and level land is scarce, so farming is restricted to a few upland plains, open valleys, and terraced hillsides. Rice is the primary crop, although growers also produce corn, barley, wheat, rapeseed, sweet potatoes, soybeans, tea, and sugarcane.

Yunnan’s temperate climate is perfect for growing arabica coffee, making it the largest coffee producer in the nation and positioning China as the thirteenth largest coffee grower in the world (Time, 2018.) Tobacco, another primary export product, contributes greatly to the province’s economy.

In Guizhou, China’s poorest province, rice is the most important crop, followed by corn, wheat, barley, potatoes, oats, and broad beans. Growers here are starting to increase their production of industrial crops, the most important of which is rapeseed, followed by tobacco, peanuts, and sugarcane.

Featured Regional Crops

In rice plants, boron does not move throughout the plant. Because it doesn't move to new growth, boron deficiency symptoms usually appear first on young leaves.
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Coffee is one of the most susceptible crops to boron deficiency and it removes significant amounts of boron from the soil each year.
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Sugar cane
Although boron is essential to the health and quality of sugar cane, it’s often the most deficient micronutrient in sugar cane plantations.
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Improve Soil Conditions with Boron Supplementation

Much of the soil in southwest China is boron-deficient, caused by centuries of intensive cultivation and soil erosion. For rice growers, this can mean chalky, brittle grains that break during milling; wheat growers may experience empty spikelets or spikes. Both conditions are avoidable by applying a good quality boron fertilizer.
Coffee is also highly susceptible to boron deficiency. Because it removes large amounts of boron from the soil each year, boron fertilization is especially critical, especially after harvest, blooming, fruit setting, and fruit growth. Cotton and oilseed rape also have a high demand for boron and are among the crops most sensitive to boron deficiency. A regular regimen of water-soluble borate products can greatly improve production and crop quality.

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Crop Study: Growing Rice in China

China 2013

Case Study Video

Hear the key results of a two-year rice trial, conducted by U.S. Borax and the International Rice Research Institute, on the effect of borates on rice quality... Watch video

U.S. Borax, part of Rio Tinto, is a global leader in the supply and science of borates—naturally-occurring minerals containing boron and other elements. We are 1,000 people serving 650 customers with more than 1,800 delivery locations globally. We supply around 30% of the world’s need for refined borates from our world-class mine in Boron, California, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Learn more about Rio Tinto.

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