Wisconsin corn grower Tom Gillis returned from China recently, where he surveyed the corn growing conditions and studied Chinese government policies impacting acreage, marketing and demand with farmers from seven other states on the 2011 U.S. Grains Council (UCGC) Corn Tour.
After a year as a significant export competitor in Asian markets, China has recently emerged as a net corn importer, and most analysts expect Chinese imports to rise in the near term. The speed and scale of this shift – and the potential of Chinese efforts to ramp up production – are major uncertainties for corn producers and traders around the world.
"Our goal for the trip was to assess last year's crop availability, this year's crop potential and try to come up with an idea of what to expect from China in relation to global supply and demand of corn," explains Gills, district 2 director for the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board from Roberts. "Corn is as far along here as it is at our place at home in Wisconsin. The stand looks good and the corn is up."
Corn planting acreage in China for 2011 is expected to generally increase marginally as farmers experienced good prices in 2010 with increased demand. While some increased corn acres have come from wheat and soybean acreage, there is also increased competition for fruits and vegetables, particularly near urban areas. Some land was unplanted and attributed to increased urban encroachment.
"China continues to balance many contending factors such as modern technology, information technology, increasing mechanization and the aging agricultural labor force. There is a vast exodus of young people to the city. We witnessed land loss due to urbanization," said Floyd Gaibler, USGC director of trade policy, who accompanied the group.
In both Heilongjian and Jilin provinces, emergence is behind normal levels due to rainy weather and low temperatures. The team also observed that germination was spotty in some locations with skipped spaces and an occurrence of hand replanting.
While in China, the seven-member delegation also met with several corn farmers, trade partners and end-users. The group visited grain storage facilities including Heilongjiang Zhaodong Xiangyang Grain Storage and Sinograins storage facility. Visits were also made to COFCO Bio-Energy Co., Ltd., an industrial processor; Jilin Fuyu Xian Fu Guo Grains Trading Co.; Jilin Henong Animal Husbandry Group Co., Ltd., the largest commercial feed company in Northeast China; and the Heilongjian Shuangcheng Modern Agricultural Science and Technology Demonstration Field. The delegation also had the opportunity to speak with farmers who run small hog farm operations, using a modern corn-soy ration for feed.
The USGC is a private, non-profit corporation that develops export markets for U.S. corn, barley, grain sorghum and related products. The Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board provides funding for USCG marketing initiatives through the state corn checkoff program, which collects one-half cent for every bushel of Wisconsin corn sold. The primary objective of Wisconsin's corn marketing order, which has been in place for more than 26 years, is to maintain and expand sales of Wisconsin corn. Three Wisconsin corn growers currently serve as Wisconsin representative to USCG including WCGA President David Adams; Ken Rosenow, Oconomowoc, and; Nancy Kavazanjian, Beaver Dam.
For more information on Wisconsin's corn checkoff or the Wisconsin Corn Promotion Board contact Bob Oleson, executive director of Wisconsin Corn Programs at [email protected] or by phone at 262-495-2232 or go to the web site at www.wicornpro.org.
Source: Wisconsin Corn Growers