Farmers in Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta have harvested one-fourth of the summer-autumn rice, with an average yield of 5.6 tonnes per ha, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Plant Cultivation Department.

The yield this year has been good, but heavy rains and winds in recent days have flattened many rice fields in the Delta, contributing to higher harvesting costs.

The harvest of the summer-autumn crop will be completed by the end of August, the department said.

In Can Tho, farmers have yielded 5.9 tonnes per ha, 0.3 tonnes higher than expected, due to the use of high-quality seeds and proper farming techniques, local authorities have said.

Pham Van Quynh, director of the Can Tho Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the city earlier this year dredged and upgraded dozens of irrigation works in four districts, helping to retain water in fields.

In addition, the four districts provided total loans of 50 billion VND (2.4 million USD) to farmers to buy input materials.

Farmers in Can Tho have also planted rice under schedules set by local authorities to avoid infestation by brown planthoppers.

Nguyen Van Be, a farmer in Can Tho's Thoi Lai District, said he was worried about declining prices although he had had a bumper harvest of nine tonnes per hectare of OM 3218 rice.

In Hau Giang province, about 200 ha of rice fields were flattened by wind and rain over the last two weeks.

Pham Thanh Hoai, chairman of a commune People's Committee in Chau Thanh A district, said such fields required more time and labour to harvest, costing an additional 40,000-50,000 VND (1.9-2.4 USD) per 1,000 sq.m more to harvest by combine or hand.

Flattened rice fields in Long An province, for example, lost 10-15 percent of the crop harvested by hand. Fields where combines were used lost about 3-5 percent.

Long An authorities warned farmers to store their harvested rice in flood-proof areas, as flooding season will arrive soon.

Much of the planted IR 50404 rice variety, which is weak and prone to collapse under heavy rain or wind, was also flattened, according to the delta's provincial departments of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Farmers often prefer to plant low-quality IR 50404 because it is easy to grow and has a high yield.-VNA