US Grains Council Expects Record Chinese Corn Harvest

St. Croix County Corn Grower visited China with UWGC delegation.

Published on: Oct 11, 2011

China is likely to harvest a record 6.6 billion bushels of corn this year – up 5.6% from last year's harvest - based on the U.S. Grain Council's China Corn Harvest Tour estimates released this week, but the country is expected to remain an important customer for U.S. corn and corn products.

"Corn stands looked very good when we visited last spring, although we noticed that emergence was delayed by rain. Apparently, weather cooperated enough the remainder of the season to mature the crop," says St. Croix County Corn Grower Tom Gillis, who visited China last spring with a USGC delegation.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

The Council's China Corn Harvest Tour began in 1996, when it provided the only non-governmental crop survey report available for China. Conducted by teams of experts from the private sector, most with long experience in the China grains market, the Council report has gained a reputation for consistency, reliability, and transparency in assessing an often-opaque China supply-and-demand situation.

This year's report is highly anticipated because of the interest surrounding China's recent emergence as a major corn importer. China's rapid economic growth has produced the world's fastest growing middle class, and demand for meat and dairy products is soaring. China's domestic corn prices this summer reached $10 a bushel.  At the same time, high U.S. and international prices may have restrained China's corn imports, leading to accelerated drawdowns of already low stocks. China is committed to food security and traditionally has maintained relatively high reserve levels.

"China continues to balance many contending factors such as modern technology, information technology, increasing mechanization and the aging agricultural labor force.  Because of these things we expect the country to remain a very good customer for our corn and corn products such as distillers' grains from ethanol plants," relates Gillis.

A record harvest may reduce these pressures in the short run, and may give China an opportunity to rebuild depleted stocks through imports. Current estimates for China's likely 2011/2012 corn imports vary widely and range from 2 million tons or 78.7 million bushels (USDA) to more than 10 million tons or 393.7 million bushels (private estimates). This new demand is likely to be a major determinant of global corn prices and production in the coming years.

The Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board provides funding for corn marketing initiatives through the state corn checkoff program, which collects one-half cent for every bushel of Wisconsin corn sold. The primary objective of Wisconsin's corn marketing order, which has been in place for more than 26 years, is to maintain and expand sales of Wisconsin corn. For more information on Wisconsin's corn checkoff or the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board contact Bob Oleson, executive director of Wisconsin Corn Programs at wicorn@centurytel.net or by phone at 262-495-2232 or go to the web site at www.wicornpro.org.