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Pineapple farmer Wu Jianlian grins from ear to ear these days as he walks through his plantation in Guangdong's Xuwen county, at the southernmost tip of the Chinese mainland.
Wu, director of the Xuwen County Pineapple Association, is now busy harvesting, weighing and packaging his pineapples and negotiating sales and deliveries.
"Pineapples planted in Xuwen are selling well in the mainland market this year, and the price has soared compared with last year," he said.
To help meet growing demand, railway lines have been operating special trains since Feb 6 to help deliver Xuwen's pineapples to major mainland cities, Wu said.
In addition to Beijing and Shanghai, the special pineapple trains have also reached Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu province, and other major cities in the eastern, northern and western parts of the country.
"This year, Xuwen's pineapple growers will certainly earn more than in previous years," Wu said.
Located on the Leizhou Peninsula, Xuwen county usually produces about 700,000 metric tons of pineapples a year, making it the country's biggest pineapple production base.
Pineapples have been grown in the county for hundreds of years, and it now accounts for more than 38 percent of the country's pineapple production and 60 percent of Guangdong's total.
Wu said he expects to earn more than 2 million yuan ($307,000) from pineapple sales this year thanks to higher prices and strong demand.
He is harvesting more than 66 hectares of pineapples this year.
Tang Ziyu, another local pineapple grower, said this year has seen the highest pineapple prices in decades.
"Now, a kilogram of pineapple usually changes hands for more than 4 yuan in the orchards, compared with just 0.4 to 0.5 yuan last year, when China was affected by the coronavirus outbreak," Tang said. "Therefore, the more growers have planted, the more they will earn this year."
In addition to the mainland market, some pineapples from Xuwen county are being exported to Russia, Tang said. He is growing pineapples on more than 6,600 square meters of land this year and said the harvest season will continue till May.
Separately, mainland customs have announced the suspension of pineapple shipments from Taiwan since Monday. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said mainland customs officers have frequently spotted insect pests in pineapple shipments from Taiwan.
Statistics from the island authorities show Taiwan shipped 45,621 metric tons of pineapples to other markets last year, including 41,661 tons - more than 90 percent - to the mainland.