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Zhang Yi Chen Changbing

Address: No.20 Mai Zi Dian Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China
National Agro-Technical Extension and Service Center, MOA, P. R. China
E-mail address:


Rapeseed is the first oil crop as well as an important cash and feed crop in China. It’s production affects directly the balance of China’s edible vegetable oil and stockbreeding industry development as well as the increase of Chinese farmers’ income. In the following thesis, the author sets forth the present situation of China’s rapeseed production and development characteristics and potential, what’s more, the middle and long term development target of China’s rapeseed production and the main measures to achieve it are also put forward by the writer.

KEY WORDS: rapeseed production development policy


In China, edible vegetable oil includes two types of herbaceous oil and woody oil. The herbaceous oil is mainly divided into large quantity and small quantity oil as well as other oil crops. In detail, there are five different large quantity oil crops, namely rapeseed, peanut, sunflower, flax and sesame. Chinese people consume vegetable oil which is mainly from the five oil crops mentioned above. In additional, cottonseed oil and soybean oil are also popular in some parts of China.

1) The important role that rapeseed plays in china’s oil production

The following aspects stands for the importance of rapeseed as the first oil crop in China:

● Have the largest production area. China’s rapeseed has the largest production area compared to other oil crops, whose percentage is nearly 60 in all the five oil crops. In recent years, more and more rapeseed is planted along the Yangtze River valley, which is China’s most important winter rapeseed growth belt. The reason is that in that regions, winter rapeseed is sowed just after the harvest of field crops and harvested before the next seeding time of field crops, so the growth season of winter rapeseed is just the time when no other field crops grow. It is predicted that the percentage of rapeseed planting area among all the oil crops will increase step by step in China.

● Rapeseed total production increases year after year. In resent years, China has nearly reached the annual rapeseed production goal of 10 million tons because of the continuous rise of planting area and yield. The percentage of rapeseed production among the total of five oil crops has rises from 35.8 in 1979 to 44.4 in 1997, this proportion is nearly equal to that of peanut now.

● Rapeseed oil consumed more and more wildly. Today in China, more and more peanut, sunflower and sesame are processed into finished food products such as sauce, juice and so on, or exported directly, but not being extracted into oil. So the proportion of rapeseed oil in China’s total vegetable oil production increases step by step. According to official statistics, 99 percent of rape seed is used to be extracted into oil. And it is estimated that in China, rapeseed oil accounts for about 65 percent of the oil production which is extracted from five main oil crops, 50 percent among the national vegetable oil and 35-40 percent in the total edible vegetable oil consumption in 1997.

● More consumers prefer to rapeseed oil. Rapeseed oil, peanut oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil are the main edible vegetable oil types in China and different oil is popular in different regions. For example, the residents living in north-east China love to eat soybean oil and people in the region between Huang River and Huai River prefer to peanut oil. However, rapeseed oil is very popular in the central, south and nouth-west China, especially in the regions along the Yangze River. And now, it can be predicted that more consumers like rapeseed oil with the appearance of double-low rapeseed oil.

2) Rapeseed production features in China

● Big planting area and wide distribution. At present, China takes the first place on the rapeseed planting area across the world, exceeding India and Canada. Every year there are 6500 thousand hectares fields seeded rapeseed in China. If just according to the climate, rapeseed can grow in nearly all parts of China. But because of the traditional agricultural habit, rapeseed mainly concentrates in two growth regions, namely the winter rapeseed zone along Yangtze River and spring rapeseed zone in north. The former zone including Hubei, Hunan, Sichuan provinces etc, it accounting for about 85 percent of China’s total rapeseed planting area. Qinghai, Xinjiang and Heilongjiang provinces are the representative places of spring rapeseed, it accounting for abour 10 percent of the national total.

● Low yield. Inspite of the rapid increase of rapeseed yield which is from 720kg per hectare in 1978 to 1479kg per hectare in resent twenty years, the rapeseed yield on average is still lower than the world average, especially compared to some rapeseed production countries in Europe. At the same time, different places have different development levels in rapeseed production in China. For instance, in Hubei, Sichuan and Jiangsu province, the rapeseed average yield is about 1815.7kg per hectare in 1997, 23 percent higher than the national average. But in Jiangxi province, rapeseed yield in 1997 is only 850kg per hectare, lower 629kg than the national average. Even in the same province, the rapeseed yield varies from one part to another part.

● Long way for extension double-low rapeseed varieties. China started to do the research work in order to breed high-quality rapeseed varieties from the early of 1970’s, and many double-low high-quality rapeseed varieties came into being from then, such as the high-quality rapeseed varieties of Huaza No 3 and Rongyou No 6 etc. But because of the affect of some traditional customs, high-quality rapeseed develop not very fast. In 1998, only 2650 thousand hectares are seeded by high-quality rapeseed, accounting for 40 percent or so among the national total. So there are still a lot of work waiting for China to do to change this condition.

● Hybrid rapeseed is the main goal in China’s rapeseed development. Qinyou No 2 is China’s most successful hybrid rapeseed variety. Just because of the successful breeding and extension of Qinyou No 2, rapeseed cross breeding has been paid great attention in nearly 20 years in China. Many Chinese rapeseed breeders do research work on breeding new high-quality varieties. Such hybrid rapeseed varieties as Huaza and Youyan had appeared and are applied to field production rapidly. It is sure that developing double-low high-quality rapeseed is the important goal in China’s rapeseed production.

● Rapeseed production on the household basis. Since the system of contracted responsibilities on the household basis carried out in 1979, Chinese farmers decide on their rapeseed production and marketing according to the demand. So it is difficult to extend high-quality hybrid rapeseed varieties.

II Rapeseed Has Big Room To Develop In China

There are great development potential in accelerating China’s rapeseed production for existing some objective factors such as the suitable natural condition and huge market demand etc.

● Rapeseed production area has potential to increase. In resent years, the sowing area of spring rapeseed in northern China is stable at the level of 700 thousand hectares or so. But some agricultural experts point out that there are still 3000 thousand hectares of winter spare fields where rapeseed can grow well along the Yangtze River valley. The Yangtze River valley winter rapeseed zone is about 6000 thousand hectares, which is both China’s chief rapeseed planting area and one of the biggest rapeseed region in the world.

● Rapeseed yield could rise with the research work development. The average yield of rapeseed is less than 1500kg per hectare in China, which is lower compared with some other European rapeseed production countries. But along with the extension of hybrid rapeseed varieties and high-yield cultivation technologies as well as the agricultural goods investment, it can be predicted that the rapeseed yield is rising step by step in the future in China.

● Huge market demand. In China, people’s annual demand to edible vegetable oil is about 9 million tons, but the average national vegetable oil production is only 7 million tons. So the rest amount of 2 million tons has to be imported from other counties. And now, increasing rapeseed oil supply is an important way to solve this problem in that the planting area of peanut, sesame and flax could not increase on a large scale.

● Farmers inclining to grow rapeseed. Chinese farmers has great enthusiasm to grow rapeseed, especially double-low hybrid rapeseed which has high economic value. The reasons are as follows: money investment is relatively low to grow rapeseed; growth season is different from that of field crops; rapeseed could increase the yield of next field crop.

● Great attention paid by the governments at all levels. Rapeseed is both oil crop and cash crop in most parts of China, in addition, rapeseed cake is a kind of good feed to raise domestic animals. So rapeseed is an important source of farmers’s income in China. The governments at all levels afford more and more funds to develop rapeseed production to accelerate the increase of farmers’s income and local economy.

III Prodict On China’S Rapeseed Production In The Future

From the development traits and huge potential of China’s rapeseed production, we can see that in order to accord with the need of Chinese agricultural economical development, the following ideas should be applied on China’s rapeseed production in the future: increase rapeseed planting area; raise rapeseed yield and the total production; pay more attention to rapeseed quality improvement in order to increase the economical value of rapeseed. The middle term goals of Chinese rapeseed production(now—2005) are as follows:

● Rapeseed planting area reaches 8000 thousand hectares at a speed of 200 thousand hectares higher a year from 1999 to 2005, and the average rising rate is about 3 percent.

● The rapeseed yield increases to 1800kg per hectare by the average rate of 4 percent, in other words, 4 kg rapeseed will be added on average in one year.

● The total rapeseed production reaches 14.4 million tons in 2005. 5 million tons of rapeseed oil will be produced then, 1.6 million tons higher than now.

● Double-low rapeseed planting area exceeds 6000 thousand hectares, hybrid rapeseed reaches to 4500 thousand hectares in 2005.

IV Measures Should Be Taken To Reach Rapeseed Development Goal

● Enhance the research work on breeding double-low hybrid rapeseed varieties. Breeding and extension work of high-quality hybrid rapeseed is a main momentum that accelerates China’s rapeseed development all the same in resent year. Up to now, Chinese rapeseed breeders had worked out some middle and late maturity hybrid varieties which are suitable in the region of the Yangtze River valley. But the early maturity rapeseed varieties which can be applied in the places of three crops a year has not come out. In addtion, China needs some B. Campestris and B.juncea rapeseed varieties to grow in northern China and some high-altitude regions. So China plans to put more energy and money to the high-quality hybrid rapeseed verieties breeding work in the future. At the same time, every rapeseed varieties should be sowed in the best suitable places according to the natural conditions.

● Study and extend high-yield rapeseed cultivation technologies. The differences between Double-low hybrid rapeseed and ordinary routine rapeseed are various such as in the aspects of anti-bad circumstances and fertilizer absorption trait etc. So in order to make rapeseed yield rise, high-yield cultivation technologies should be combined with high-quality rapeseed varieties. It is necessary to make the yield increasing potential of high-quality rapeseed varieties sure.

● Strengthen the seed production and supply system. A perfect management system should be set up in rape seed production and purity control. In the meanwhile, a smooth seed supply channel should be opened sooner.

● Pay more attension to the processing and utilization of rapeseed. In order to increase the potential value of high-quality hybrid rapeseed, the high-quality commodity rape seeds should be divided from ordinary rape seeds in the course of purchasing, processing and utilization. The farmers who plant double-low rapeseed will get more money than planting ordinary one. So in this way, it is possible to accelerate the high-quality rapeseed production development in China.

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