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U.S. Grains Council releases estimate of China’s corn crop

DANIEL LOOKER 10/05/2010 @ 10:33am Business Editor

China will likely harvest a corn crop of 158 million metric tons (mmt) this year, according to an in-field survey and sampling conducted by the U.S. Grains Council.

The Council released its results Tuesday, saying that China’s crop appears bigger than last year but smaller than current estimates by both the government of China and USDA.

“The production, although up in China, it is not a bumper crop,” said Council president, Thomas Dorr.  “It appears their production will likely keep up with demand.”

Production in China last year was 155 mmt, according to USDA. USDA’s current estimate for the Chinese crop is 166 mmt.

Dorr expects U.S. exports to China to continue, however, to help feed a livestock industry whose feed demand is growing at the rate of 3% to 6% a year, as well as corn milling that produces industrial chemicals. 

Dorr said he looks for U.S. exports in 2010-2011 to be about 2 mmt along with an additional 2.5 to 3 mmt of distillers grains from the U.S. ethanol industry.

“In calendar year 2011, I would not be surprised to 3 million metric tons, but that remains to be seen,” he said.

Dorr said that current shipments of corn to U.S. ports in the Pacific Northwest are facing a bottleneck due to soybean shipments by rail.

The Council has been conducting the China Corn Tour since 1996.  It’s considered the largest, most accurate assessment by a private group. This year’s tour covered about 71% of the corn growing area in China, Dorr said. The council’s teams took 300 samples of corn from seven major production areas.  

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