USDA sees bumper Chinese corn harvest despite drought concern

US Department of Agriculture raised its projection of China’s corn production in 2022/23 marketing year despite concerns of crop damage due to extreme drought condition earlier this year. 

USDA raised the expectation of Chinese corn output in this new marketing year to 274 million tons, up 3 million tons from the previous projection, according to the most recent World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (Wasde). 

“China corn production is raised as abundant rainfall in key Northeast provinces and the North China Plain boost yield prospects,” said USDA in the Wasde report for September 2022. 

On a year-on-year basis, this new estimate represents an increase of 1 million tons. 

As Chinese corn demand is forecasted to remain unchanged at 295 million tons, ending stocks level for 2022/23 are to rise 3 million tons in accordance with higher production. 

The new projection is made at a time when analysts and traders were deeply concerned with lower corn crop yield in China due to the prolonged drought condition as the country suffered from the longest heatwave in history between June and August this year. 

Nearly a third of China’s massive corn crops grows in the northern region while the rest is mostly located in the northeast. 

Henan, Shaanxi and Shandong provinces in northern China has been hit hard by the heatwave but were slightly better than eastern and southern China where extreme hot temperature and dry condition lasted 2-3 months. 

Fortunately, the country was greeted by heavy rainfalls in late August shortly after the end of heatwave. 

“Since August, most of the main corn producing areas have experienced obvious precipitation, which is conducive to the formation of yield. The temperature in northeastern China is low and the grain filling speed has slowed down, but most of the corn crops grows well. If there is no early frost in the later period, it will not affect yield much,” said China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Tuesday.