From The New York Times:
A severe drought in northern China has badly damaged the winter wheat crop and left the ground very dry for the spring planting, fueling inflation and alarming China’s leaders. …
Rising food prices were a problem last autumn, even before the drought began, prompting the government to impose a wide range of price controls in mid-November. The winter wheat crop has been parched since then in northern China while unusually widespread frost has hurt the vegetable crop in southern China. State media began warning a week ago that price controls on food might not be effective.
Some of the driest areas are close to Beijing, which has had no appreciable precipitation since Oct. 23, although there were brief snow flurries on Dec. 29. If the drought lasts 11 more days it will match one in the winter of 1970-71 as the longest since modern recordkeeping started in 1951, according to government meteorologists quoted by state media.