For All the Corn in China

In Exports, International by Cindy

By all accounts, China is producing a record amount of corn this season, but still not enough to meet their domestic demand, which means they are also expected to import a record amount of corn.

According to the latest USDA supply-demand forecast, corn production for China this year was increase 4.0 million tons to a record 182.0 million tons. That figure is supported by 2011 weather data, information from crop tours, and early forecasts by officials in China. The U.S. Grains Council after its annual China Corn Harvest Tour earlier this month came up with a lower figure of 167 million metric tons (6.6 billion bushels), which is still a bumper crop. That was calculated on the basis of a projected corn harvest area of 30.9 million hectares (76.35 million acres), with a yield of about 85.9 bushels per acre – not impressive compared to the U.S., but pretty good for them.

“The 2011 corn crop I witnessed in China was far more impressive than I expected,” said Don Hutchens, Nebraska Corn Board executive director who participated in the USGC tour. “They have little, if any, crop loss and average yields are expected to be in the mid 80 bushel per acre range.”

However, all that corn is still expected to be insufficient to meet China’s demands. USGC expects China will need to import 5-10 million tons of corn for the 2011/12 season, a significantly more than USDA’s estimate of 2.68 million tons.

“With the fastest-growing middle class in the world, China has a great opportunity to enhance its food security through trade. That translates into a growing opportunity for U.S. producers over the next several years,” said Dr. Wendell Shauman, USGC chairman.

As recently as 2002/2003, China exported nearly 600 million bushels of corn. Exports then began to decline, and China was a net importer in 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.

Read more about the USGC China Tour and see photos here.