The USDA announced Friday export sales of a whopping 1.36 million metric tons of U.S. new crop corn to China for delivery in the 2021-22 marketing year. The purchase comes amid growing concerns that dryness could stunt Brazil’s second harvest.

Collin Watters, director of exports and logistics for the Illinois Corn Growers Association, says the sale is great news and more evidence of lasting Chinese demand.

“It looks like this huge sale in the next marketing year is shoring up the concept that this is a true demand situation,” Watters tells Agri-Pulse. “It’s not just politically motivated.”

China has been racking up massive amounts of commitments for the 2020-21 marketing year in recent months, but there has still been concern that the Chinese could cancel orders.

U.S. shipments in the 2020-21 marketing year have also been strong, but there are still millions of tons in outstanding sales. As of April 29, the U.S. had shipped 11.38 million tons of corn to China in 2020-21, according to the latest USDA trade data. That’s about half of the 23.2 million tons of total purchases.

Late April was big for U.S. shipments to China. The U.S. shipped 698,100 metric tons of corn to the country from April 23-29, pushing U.S. exports to jump 19% over the four-week average.

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“We are glad to see China buying new crop 2021-22 corn for export,” says U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand. “This is a sign that corn demand in China is still strong and the country needs imports to meet that demand.”

China is currently buying up Brazil’s latest soybean harvest at a blistering pace, and Chinese companies are expected to take much of Brazil’s second crop corn – the “safrinha” – but there is widespread concern that dryness will sharply cut production.

“It’s been especially bad in southern safrinha states like Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana,” says Watters. “They need to have consistent rain through the month of May to make an average crop. That’s where everybody’s watching right now.”

USDA also announced an export sale of 188,468 tons of corn, but it was listed as delivery to “unknown destinations.” Of that total, 86,868 tons are for delivery in 2020-21 and 101,600 are for delivery in 2021-22.

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