December 15, 2011


China's corn crop to boost global grain production



China's bumper corn harvest is expected to boost the world's 2011-12 coarse grain production, which is forecast to increase by 9.4 million tonnes this December to a record 1,145.2 million tonnes, according to a USDA report.


Foreign corn production is up 8.5 million tonnes to 554.8 million, foreign sorghum production is increased 0.6 million to 55.3 million, and foreign barley and oats production are each boosted 0.1 million tonnes to 129.9 million and 22.0 million, respectively.


China's National Bureau of Statistics released estimates of national corn production this month, many months earlier than usual and with provincial detail for total grain. Both area and yield are increased from earlier projections, boosting 2011/12 production 7.25 million tonnes to a record 191.75 million.


Area is up 0.2 million hectares this month to 33.4 million, a 3% increase from the previous year. China's corn area has increased for eight consecutive years. Good returns for planting corn have supported corn replacing other crops, especially soy. The provincial data indicate strong area expansion in Inner Mongolia and Heilongjiang, the northern and western edge of corn production in China.


Rainfall and temperatures through the growing season were mostly favourable, supporting record corn yields, up 3% this month to 5.74 tonnes per hectare, and 5% higher than a year ago. Satellite imagery, rainfall, and temperature data confirm good crop conditions through the growing season in most areas, though there was dryness in Heilongjiang and some other parts of the Northeast during the late summer and fall. An overview of growing conditions for corn in China for 2011 indicates good, but not exceptionally favourable, rainfall and temperatures. However, it is exceptional that a country as large as China had no corn areas with significant floods or drought.


EU corn crop is up one million tonnes this month to a record 63.9 million, as several countries revised production estimates based on harvest reports. The largest increase was reported for Romania; Bulgaria, France, and Spain; also had significant increases; Italy and the Czech Republic; had small increases; and Hungary had a decline. Corn yields for the EU are record high, with favourable rains during key growth stages in most countries, with the exception of Hungary, which suffered from dry conditions. Serbia (not part of the EU but Hungary's neighbour) also reported a slight reduction in corn production this month.


Canada's corn production is up 0.7 million tonnes this month to 10.7 million. Statistics Canada published a production estimate based on harvest results that showed better yields than earlier expected. The delayed development of the crop caused by cool wet conditions in most of Ontario did not hurt corn yields as much as expected, but the yield remains down 8% from the previous year's record.


Corn production in Belarus is forecast down 0.4 million tonnes to 1.2 million this month as less than record yields are confirmed by government reports. Area and production remain at record levels.


Brazil reported larger sorghum area and production for both 2010/11 and 2011/12. Sorghum is used in parts of the Centre-West of Brazil as a "cover crop" to protect soils from exposure to the sun during the dry season, and area is being maintained despite the relatively low grain yields. Sorghum production is raised 0.5 million tonnes for both years, to 2.2 million for 2011/12 and 2.3 million for 2010/11.


Australia's sorghum production projected for 2011/12, still being planted, is up 0.2 million tonnes this month to 2.4 million. Good soil moisture and prices support area and yield prospects. However, for South Africa, sorghum production is cut 0.1 million tonnes to 0.1 million as area being planted is reported down significantly. South Africa's barley yield prospects are slightly higher this month.


Australian yield reports boosted barley production 0.3 million tonnes to 8.5 million while increasing oats fractionally and reducing corn slightly. Statistics Canada reported lower barley yields, trimming production 0.1 million tonnes to 7.8 million, but oats area was increased, boosting production 0.1 million to three million. There are also small reductions this month for Morocco's barley and Mexico's oats.

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