The U.S. Grains Council recently concluded its annual China Corn Tour, estimating an increase in production over 2009.

The Council estimates the total production for China’s 2010 corn crop at 158 million metric tons (6.2 billion bushels). Given the projected corn harvest area of 30.8 million hectares, this implies a yield of 5.13 tons/hectare or 81.5 bushels/acre.

“While the Council is projecting higher production numbers than last year, this does not indicate a bumper crop. Conservative estimates of demand growth suggest China will likely need to import,” said Thomas C. Dorr, USGC president and CEO.

In the 2011 calendar year, the Council anticipates China to import 2 million tons (78.7 million bushels) of U.S. corn and 2.5-3 million tons of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles, a co-product of U.S. ethanol production.  

The Council’s annual China Corn Tour, which began in 1996, consists of two major surveys in the North China Plain and in northeast China. These two areas represent 71 percent of China’s corn production. The remaining 30 percent is dispersed and difficult to survey.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates China’s corn production at 166 million tons (6.5 billion bushels) with a 40 million ton (1.6 billion bushel) carryover. An independent consulting firm in China projects a 158.7 million ton (6.2 billion bushel) corn crop with a 30-35 million ton (1.2-1.4 billion bushel) carryover. The Chinese government currently projects 165 million tons (6.5 billion bushels) with a 55-60 million ton (2.2-2.4 billion bushel) carryover.

China’s demand growth is expected to continue. Dorr said the most rapid growth is in the industrial milling sector which may expand by 15 percent or more next year. He said demand for feed continues to grow at rates of three to five percent each year. Dorr said it all adds up to an opportunity for U.S. corn.

“China has imported significant amounts of soybeans, DDGS and now corn. The Council believes this reflects a recognition by Chinese government officials that food security does not necessarily have to be built on food self-sufficiency,” Dorr said.

“In the United States the harvest is fully under way with farmers in all major grain growing states working to bring in what looks like to be a large 2010 crop. The United States will continue to be a reliable supplier of corn and co-products and we look forward to China being a long-term U.S. trading partner.”

For more from the U.S. Grains Council, please visit www.grains.org.