The USDA on Thursday reported yet another Chinese purchase of more than a million metric tons of U.S. corn, pushing cumulative U.S. corn sales to China so far in the current 2021-22 marketing year to roughly 14.7 million metric tons.

The recent spate of large Chinese purchases of U.S. corn – much of which market analysts say is to replace unavailable Ukrainian supplies – is helping push the U.S. closer to the record for China set in the 2020-21 marketing year, a whopping 21.4 million tons.

The USDA announced Thursday export sales of 1.088 million tons of corn to Chinese buyers, 476,000 tons of which is for delivery in 2021-22 and 612,000 tons of which is for delivery in the 2022-23 marketing year that begins Sept. 1. That sale follows a 1.347-million-ton announcement April 22, a 1.02-million-ton sale announced April 11, and a 1.084-million-ton sale announced April 4.

Market analysts speculate that China had counted on getting about 6 million metric tons of corn from Ukraine before the Russian invasion that resulted in a Black Sea blockade that is preventing most exports from the war-torn country. China has bought roughly 4 million tons of old crop and new crop corn from the U.S. since the beginning of April.

It’s unclear whether the U.S. will be able to export enough in the remaining months of the current marketing year that ends Aug. 31 in order to reach or beat the record shipments of 2020-21, says U.S. Grains Council Vice President Cary Sifferath.

As of April 21, the U.S. had exported about 8.4 million tons of corn for 2021-22, significantly behind the pace of 2020-21 at this time last year, which was about 10.7 million tons. It’s a matter of time and shipping capacity rather than demand, Sifferath said.

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