China's 'space greenhouse' is prepping to grow more crops

With the China Manned Space Agency's announcement on Thursday of an open call for space breeding experimental projects, China's "space greenhouse" is ready to embrace the planting of more new species, as recent years have seen a significant increase in the variety of crops that have toured around space. Many of these crops have already entered ordinary households and are served on dinner tables, and space breeding is playing a greater role in contributing to China's food security. 

"Staple crops and vegetable crops are the main species that have been promoted on a large scale on the ground after space breeding. They include rice, wheat, corn, peppers, tomatoes, space lotus, and other varieties," Zhao Hui, secretary-general of the Space Breeding Industry Innovation Alliance, told the Global Times. 

Many space-bred crops have now been planted on a large scale, Zhao said. For example, the rice seeds carried by the Shenzhou-10 manned mission have produced nearly 10 new varieties of high-quality, high-yielding rice in the past five years.

The average yield of wheat production in China is around 400-600 kilograms per mu (0.67 hectares), Zhao said, while the new variety of wheat seeds bred from the ones carried onboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft in 2013 will have an average yield of more than 800 kilograms per mu. The new variety of seeds is expected to be planted over an area of more than 500,000 mu from 2021 to 2023. 


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