Experts have warned of difficult times for the upcoming rice crop, from now to the end of the year, with serious droughts threatening the crops on the front end and severe flooding looming on the back.

Director of the Central Hydro-meteorology Forecasting Centre Bui Minh Tang made the above statement at a meeting to review the results of the winter-spring rice crop and to launch plans for the summer-autumn crop.

He also said that other obstacles, including the threat of the black dwarf stunted disease and shortages of hybrid rice varieties, would seriously affect the productivity of crops from now to the end of the year.

According to Tang, the average rainfall from the beginning of this year to present had decreased 20 to 30 percent in some areas compared to last year, while it had increased from 60 to 70 percent in other areas.

Rain in some areas couldn't meet both the demands for agriculture production and irrigation work. Currently, water levels in the Hoa Binh, Tuyen Quang and Son La irrigation lakes were at dead levels.

In the future, the sunny weather would continue, especially in some northern and central provinces. It was forecast that the average temperature for this year could reach a record high.

However, due to the long-lasting drought, storms and tropical low pressure zones would come later than in other years, near the end of the harvest.

Central and north-central provinces would have to take measures to cope with the lack of water at the beginning of the crop and with flooding at the end of the crop, Tang said.

Regarding measures to cope with diseases, director of Red River Delta Thai Binh province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Huu Rong said that the province would plant 45,000ha of rice, an increase of 6,000ha compared to the winter-spring crop.

All seeds will be treated with chemical substances before being sowed.

Director of the Department of Cultivation Nguyen Tri Ngoc said that for rice crops in low-lying areas that could be affected by flooding, or for those with unstable productivity, farmers should shift to other kinds of crops.

For the Red River Delta, where 70,000 to 80,000ha of rice were planted in low-lying areas, farmers should plant rice varieties with high trunks and good water resistance.

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that provinces needed to be well-prepared to carry out preventative measures against the black dwarf stunted disease and to protect against floods near the end of the harvest.

Apart from proper conduction of irrigation systems in order to have effective solutions for drought and flood prevention, provinces needed to ensure that they had enough water pumps at pumping stations, and extra pumps to cope with severe flooding, Phat said.

Despite difficulties such as drought and black dwarf stunted disease outbreaks, the winter-spring crop still harvested 5.5 million tonnes of rice, equal to last year's same crop, according to deputy director of the Cultivation Department Pham Dong Quang.

Many provinces had started to plant hybrid rice varieties, which accounted for the good yields, including central Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces./.