BEIJING, CHINA – A Chinese agricultural official said on March 5 that this year’s China winter wheat crop could be the “worst in history,” Reuters reported.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian told reporters at the country’s annual parliament meeting that a survey taken of the crop prior to the start of winter showed a 20% reduction in first- and second-grade winter wheat, due mainly to heavy rainfall during planting that reduced acreage by one-third.

The negative forecast comes at a time when the world’s wheat supply is being impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two countries account for nearly 30% of wheat exports and the shutdown of Ukrainian ports for the last 12 days due to the war has caused wheat prices to surge to 14-year highs.

China President Xi Jinping has made grain self-sufficiency a priority as part of the country’s most recent five-year plan.

While much of the world has cut trade ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, China in February announced it was relaxing restrictions on imports of Russian wheat. The decision to allow imports of wheat from all regions of Russia was made during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing during the Winter Olympics.