China corn production projected higher

29 Sep, 2008 01:28 PM
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US analysts are projecting China's number of corn hectares to be flat to down but production to be higher thanks to better weather and more rainfall this growing season.

The findings come from a recent US Grains Council corn crop tour in major corn producing provinces and Cary Sifferath, USGC senior director in China.

Mr Sifferath projected corn production in China at 153.54 million metric tonnes, lower than the official Chinese estimate of 156mt and higher than Chinese-American joint venture analyst firm JCI's 142.4mt estimate.

He said overall yields look to be much higher this year compared to last year, with a national average of 5.28t/ha or approximately 84 bu/acre.

Mr Sifferath estimates yields in Jilin, the largest producing province, to average 6.98t/ha or 111 bu/acre.

China was once a significant corn exporter to the Asian market, whereas today its booming livestock industry and growing middle class have brought exports to an end.

The government has officially shut down exports of corn, as well as wheat and rice, as a way to control inflation and keep grain stocks in-house.

China is not expected to come back into the corn export market for at least the next six months, and it could be even longer.

China's government is very tight lipped about ending stocks, but JCI estimates stocks are expected to be down to 32mt, down from 43mt last year, said Sam Niw, USGC assistant director in China.

Mr Sifferath doesn't expect China to be a corn importer this year, especially with their large winter wheat crop allowing for additional feeding of wheat.

Five ethanol plants run on grain, but the government isn't licensing any new grain ethanol plants to prevent a fight between corn for feed versus fuel.

The government also caps the amount of corn that can be used for corn processing.

Feed demand remains the largest driver for Chinese corn use.

Disease issues in 2006 and 2007 hindered feed demand, but Sifferath said he sees higher corn feed demand this year since the disease issues are over.

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