But there were only minor changes in 2012/13 corn imports in other countries. From 2011/12 to 2012/13 corn imports by Iran declined by 20 million bushels, imports by Algeria, Japan, Syria and South Africa were down 15 million bushels each. Even if all of these countries’ imports rebound next year, it is hard to see where the 600 million bushel increase in U.S. corn exports will come from.
The U.S. share of the world corn market has dropped significantly this year. For almost a decade up to the 2009/10 crop year, the U.S. share of the world corn market was near 60 percent. This year that share has plunged to just 20 percent and it had already declined to 34 percent in the 2011/12 season. Clearly competitive supplies have increased in recent years.
Argentina, Brazil and Ukraine are our biggest competitors for world corn trade this year, with Brazil emerging as the world’s largest exporter for 2012/13. A decade ago these three countries exports totaled about 700 million bushels. Even as recently as 5 years ago the total exports for these three countries was less than 1 billion bushels. This year and last year their exports have averaged nearly 2.2 billion bushels and they account for more than half of world corn trade. The U.S. may have to wrest some market share back from these competitors to boost exports back to 1.3 billion bushels or more.
The USDA forecast show Brazils’ corn crop declining from 77 million tonnes in 2012/13 to 72 million tonnes in 2013/14. Since the crop is not even planted yet, getting an accurate estimate of how much might be produced is impossible. However, the data suggest that USDA may be underestimating the 2013 trend yield in Brazil. Using actual yield data for the last 10 years puts the trend yield in 2013/14 at 4.98 tonnes per hectare. USDA’s forecast actually shows Brazil’s corn yield for next season at 4.65 tonnes per hectare, below actual yields in both 2011/12 and 2012/13. If we use the 10-year trend yield and USDA’s area forecast of 15.5 million hectares, down 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) from this year’s level, production comes in at 77 million tonnes. That would suggest the availability of an additional 200 million bushels for export.
The corn yield assumption for Ukraine also looks too low in the USDA forecast. The 10-year trend indicates a 2013 yield of 5.66 tonnes per hectare compared to the USDA forecast of 5.53 tonnes. The difference in production is a relatively small 24 million bushels of corn.