BEIJING, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The size of drought-stricken areas in China is significantly smaller after rain and snow since Friday, the country's drought relief authority said Monday.
As of Sunday, the total acreage of drought-hit farmlands in eight major wheat-producing provinces was 37.82 million mu (2.52 million hectares), down 73.69 million mu from 20 days ago when the drought was at its worst, said the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH) in a statement on its website.
The statement said most of these areas had seen rain or snow since Feb. 25.
The eight provinces include Shanxi, Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Gansu, Anhui, while the other three provinces of Shandong, Hebei and Henan are the worst affected with total drought-hit crop areas exceeding 24 million mu.
Shandong received 17 mm of rainfall on average from Friday to Sunday, with Caoxian County in the southwest province seeing the largest precipitation of 35.5 mm, the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters said on Monday.
The province' s meteorological authorities launched its largest cloud-seeding operation in 20 years by firing 5,800 silver-iodide rockets and flares into the sky to increase rainfall and alleviate the worst drought in six decades.
The rainfall helped to reduce the total coverage of the drought by 82 percent to about 10 million mu, it said.
The rainfall also helped ease the pressure on water resources in Shandong by saving 1.6 billion cubic meters of water that could be used to irrigate without rain, it said.
Winter wheat accounts for 95 percent of the gross wheat output in China, the world' s largest producer of the commodity.
The statement said local governments in the eight regions have irrigated 117.5 million mu of winter wheat this month, more than 40 percent of the total acreage.
Since the autumn, local governments in these regions have mobilized more than 14 million people to help irrigate 190 million mu of winter wheat, 69 percent of the total.