The U.S. Grains Council has crunched the numbers from their tour of corn fields in Northwest China and the North China Plains. Based on the survey they estimate 2009 Chinese production at 148.79 million metric tons, or 5.86 billion bushels. Those figures work out to a national average yield of about 79 bushels per acre.
"Both of these numbers would be down from corn production in China last year," said Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director in China. "The production number would be down about 9.7% compared to China National Grain and Oils Information Center. Their number for last year, 2008, would be about 165.917 million metric tons or 6.53 billion bushels."
Sifferath says because of that he thinks prices will continue to be relatively high in China, which could lead to additional dried distiller's grains sales into China during the rest of 2009 and into 2010.
This is the tenth year the USGC has organized a fall corn tour in China, sending teams to observe and take samples of China's corn crop in an effort to estimate the size of the crop. Each year several teams are sent in different directions in order to cover as much of the major corn production areas as possible.
"This year we had 15 people who traveled in four different provinces in the Northwest and five provinces in the North China Plains," said USGC Special Assistant Eric Erickson. "As a rule each team tried to take measurements at 30 kilometer intervals along the routes of travel. They looked at plants per hectare, ears per plant and kernels per ear."
At the end of the week the team members sat down and compared notes and observations and drawing on their other experience and knowledge to hammer out an estimate of corn area planted, yield, and production.
As it usually does, USGC included a U.S. corn grower as part of the tour. This year Guy Davenport, a corn farmer from North Carolina was part of the team and Erickson says he brought invaluable insight about the art and science of growing corn.
"China corn farming was certainly not what I envisioned it to be," Davenport said. "They have soils that are just as good as ours, very large fields that are comparable to our Midwest farms. Each farmer has about five acres but you would not know this just by driving down the road."
Davenport says that most row widths were about 26 inches and because of distrust of corn planters, much of the crop is planted by hand, which does cause a drag on yields. The corn varieties seem to be good selections for the geographical areas and Davenport commented on the fact that very little signs of plant disease with what insect damage seen very light and very little lodging. All in all, Davenport said the entire experience was very interesting.