China 20/21 corn planting jumps, soybean output plunges

Corn and soybean plantings in China during 2020/21 marketing year were in sharp divergence as planting area and production of the former crop gained significantly whereas those of the latter slumped.

Total corn planting area in the world’s most populous country reached 650 million mu (43.33 million ha), rising 5% from the previous marketing year and the highest level since 2016, according to latest data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Gross production of the crop hit a new record high of nearly 273 million mt during the year, up about 5% YoY, despite the yield dipping 0.4% to 419 kg/mu (6,285kg/ha).

“Corn price rose significantly since last year, increasing planting benefits. So farmers were more willing to plant corn,” said Wang Minghua, the deputy director of the rural affairs department of NBS.

Sources: Sitonia Consulting, China National Bureau of Statistics

On the contrary, soybean planting area in China plummeted nearly 15% on the year to 126 million mu (8.4 million ha), reaching the lowest level since 2018.

Soybean output in the country plunged more than 16% from the previous year to 16.4 million mt, also the lowest level in three years.

“As the profitability of [growing] soybeans was lower than that of corn, farmers’ willingness for planting weakened,” said NBS.

Sources: Sitonia Consulting, China National Bureau of Statistics

Higher corn output and lower soybean production marked a threshold of China’s policy towards reducing corn stockpiles since 2016 have ended.

The country has been cutting its corn stockpile of more than 100 million mt since 2016 through lower corn planting subsidies to farmers and selling the stockpile via auctions. But both measures slowed in the past two years as China’s corn supply deficit loomed larger with a growing domestic soybean production.

China imported more than 20 million mt of corn in last marketing year, and some expected the figure to rise to 30 million mt.

At the same time, wheat planting area in China ticked 0.8% higher YoY to 354 million mu (23.6 million ha), and production during the year totaled 137 million mt.

Sources: Sitonia Consulting, China National Bureau of Statistics