Early crop planting; More corn auctions; Slower grain procurements

Early planting on track

China’s spring crops are 7.6% planted according to recent data from the Ministry of Agriculture. This pace is just slightly ahead of last year which was 7.3% at that time.

Generally, the Ministry doesn’t break these numbers out to specific crops such as corn, rice, or sorghum, but instead aggregates them into ‘spring planted crops’.

Currently the planting is on pace, but could face more challenges as the sowing season moves north, as many places in China’s northeastern grain belt are dealing with Covid outbreaks.

Imported corn reserve auctions restart after short pause

State auctions of imported corn resumed this week and continued to attract strong demand as prices in China remain high.

After pausing for two weeks, auctions of imported corn reserves restarted this Tuesday, selling the entire offer of nearly 12,000 tons in the domestic market.

The majority of corn reserves sold in this round of auction was imported from the US in 2020, and 12% of the auction volume was from Ukraine in 2021.

Despite a full sale this week, the size of offer is much smaller compared to offered volumes in the previous five auctions in March this year that averaged 34,500 tons.

Corn prices in China are hovering at around 2,600-2,700 yuan/ton ($409-425/ton), near the record high.

The Chinese government is likely to continue corn reserves auctions in the second quarter of this year until prices can retreat to a level that is profitable for imports.

Grain procurements slow as corn volume slides

Company grain procurements from farmers in the main growing region in China during the ten-day period ending March 25 fell nearly a third compared with the previous period as corn buying slowed notably.

Total procurements of rice, soybeans and corn reached 3.66 million tons during the period, down 31%. The cumulative total volume this marketing year has reached 172.64 million tons, according to official government data.

Soybean procurement volume gained 11% to 100,000 tons, pushing the gross figure this year to 2.31 million tons.

In contrast, corn procurement slumped 32% to 3.56 million tons with the cumulative total volume at 104.06 million tons.