Nearly 88% of U.S. corn sampled by the USGC was rated at U.S. grade No. 2 or better. 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – An overwhelming majority, nearly 88%, of U.S. corn sampled by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) was rated at U.S. grade No. 2 or better, according to the group’s sixth annual Corn Harvest Quality Report released on Dec. 16.


The good quality was largely the result of a warm, dry vegetative period, followed by a warm and wet grain-filling period and harvest. The favorable weather conditions led to a projected record amount of corn in 2016 available for export.

As in past editions, the 2016-17 Corn Harvest Quality Report provides information about the quality of the current U.S. crop at harvest as it enters international merchandising channels, using consistent methodology to allow for comparison with past years’ quality. Corn quality observed by buyers will be further affected by subsequent handling, blending and storage conditions. A second USGC report, the 2016/2017 Corn Export Cargo Quality Report, will measure corn quality at export terminals at the point of loading for international shipment and will be available in early 2017.

Other characteristics of the crop include:

• Average test weight of 58.3 pounds per bushel (75.0 kilograms per hectoliter), with 94.9% within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade corn, slightly higher than 2015.

• Low levels of broken corn and foreign material (average of 0.7%), with 96.6% within the range for U.S. No. 1 grade, indicating little cleaning will be required.

• Average elevator moisture of 16.1%, which indicates slightly more samples required drying than in 2015, but still less than 2014.

• Average protein concentration of 8.6% (dry basis), higher than 2015.

• Average starch concentration of 72.5% (dry basis).

• Average oil concentration of 4% (dry basis), higher than 2015 and the five-year average.

• Low percentage of stress cracks (4%) and low stress crack index (8.8), higher than 2015, but below 2014 and the five-year average. This is likely due to excellent field dry down conditions at harvest with little artificial drying.

• 99.4% of the 2016-17 samples tested below the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action level (20 parts per billion) for aflatoxins.

• 100% of the 2016-17 samples tested below the U.S. FDA advisory level for DON or deoxynivalenol/vomitoxin (5.0 parts per million for hogs and other animals; 10 parts per million for chicken and cattle).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate (WASDE) report released in November estimates U.S. corn production at 386.8 million tonnes (15.2 billion bushels) in 2016, 7.11% increase in production over the record 2014 crop year. The U.S. is the top exporter of corn, with an estimated 39.2% of global corn exports during the 2016-17 marketing year.

The USGC will be sharing the results of its quality report with global customers over the next two months, starting in December with two regional seminars in Cairo, Egypt, and Casablanca, Morocco. Other countries included in the rollout event are Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.

"Currently U.S. corn is very competitive in this region," said Alvaro Cordero, USGC manager of global trade based in Washington, D.C. "In the first three months of this marketing year, the U.S. has exported 1.0 million tonnes (39.36 million bushels) of corn versus only 69,000 tonnes (2.7 million bushels) at the same time last marketing year. We want that surge to continue."

While Black Sea corn harvest is trickling into the Middle East and North Africa, the quality of U.S. corn is superior, and buyers are both claiming and showing in their purchases a strong preference for U.S. corn, USGC said.

The harvest quality report confirmed that U.S. farmers have again produced another record corn crop and that the quality of that crop is once again excellent relative to the previous five years.

While in the region, Cordero; Kurt Shultz, the director for global strategies for the USGC; and Curt Mether, director for the Iowa Corn Growers Association; David Peschong, export merchandizer for Poet Nutrition; and Carl Reed, a retired professor from Kansas State University, met with key customers in aquaculture and beef feedlot operations to explore the use of U.S. DDGS.

The region imported more than 1.1 million tonnes of DDGS in 2016, with Turkey aggressively taking advantage of U.S. DDGS prices and importing nearly 786,000 tonnes in the first 10 months of 2016. Turkey alone should exceed 1 million tonnes of DDGS imports by the end of 2016.

"This region is very diverse and there is tremendous growth occurring, so the Council and its members need to be engaged and meeting with the grain trade," Shultz said. "They are hungry for more contact and trade with U.S. exporters, and we will be accelerating efforts in the region in 2017."

Similar roll-out events for the quality report have been scheduled by all of the USGC’s international offices over the next two months targeting established and potential importers. They will be complemented by one-on-one consultations with key customers as well as further outreach surrounding the release of the accompanying Export Cargo Quality Report, due out in the spring.

The entire Harvest Report 2016-17 is available here.