WASHINGTON, DC, US — US corn and sorghum exports ticked up in the 2020-21 marketing year based on strong foreign demand and reduced competition, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture.

Lowered corn crop output supplies in Brazil and strong demand have set US corn exports for the 2020-21 marketing year to estimate about 73 million tonnes. If realized, it would be the largest US corn export season ever and valued at $17.9 billion, according to the USDA. The previous record was set in the 2017-18 marketing year with 63.7 million tonnes valued at $11.6 billion.

The USDA attributed US corn exports in the 2020-21 marketing year fairing well to reduced competition in Ukraine, smaller harvest in Argentina and expected unfavorable weather in Brazil.

The United States also is seeing diminished competition from China due to increased Chinese feed demand and high corn prices.

“China’s domestic corn prices remain at record levels,” the USDA said. “Reported substantial releases of wheat and rice stocks from State reserves have had no apparent impact on domestic corn prices, presumably because of the poor quality for use in feed rations.”

Looking ahead to the 2021-22 marketing year, US corn exports are anticipated to decline to 62 million tonnes but would still be the third largest on record, if realized.

The USDA foresees US corn export competition to be heightened with Ukraine and Russia expecting record harvests and expanded planting areas in Argentina and Brazil.

Despite possible other sources for demand, China is expected to continue purchasing US corn. The USDA forecasts China to purchase 26 million tonnes of US corn in the 2021-22 marketing year.

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China also is boosting US sorghum sales. Exports of the commodity could reach the third highest in history in the 2020-21 marketing year with a forecasted total of 7.8 million tonnes.

The USDA noted Chinese purchases accounted for 95% of US sorghum exports in the first seven months of the 2020-21 marketing year.

“In China, imported sorghum has been commonly used as a substitute for corn in feed rations,” the USDA said. “Sorghum imports are not subject to the tariff-rate quota and currently face no technical restrictions that impede trade.”

Rising US sorghum exports are expected to continue in the 2021-22 marketing year as production of the commodity is forecast to be 10.8 million tonnes. About nine million tonnes of that estimate is projected to be exported in the 2021-22 marketing year, possibly creating a record year of sorghum exports since the 2014-15 marketing year.